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Jerri Lynn Smith Sidel

Born September 7, 1944

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Jerri was born in Pineville, Kentucky on September 7, 1944 to Paul Floyd Smith Sr. (born January 15, 1915 / died March 6, 2001) and Litha Mills Smith.  Her parent’s named her Jeraldine Lynn Smith, but always called her Jerri.  She had an older brother named Paul Floyd Smith Jr. (born March 11, 1943/died July 5, 2005).  She moved to Indianapolis when she was about 2 years old.  Jerri had a simple childhood that involved a lot of time spent with family due to her Mom being sick often.  Her Mom had 13 surgeries during her childhood years.  Jerri remembers spending time in hospitals praying that her Mom would survive.  God answered her prayers and her Mom lived to be 85 years old.  As a child, Jerri enjoyed reading, telling funny stories, playing at Willard Park with her brother and hanging out with her cousins, especially her cousin, Kaye Smith Carter.  Also, she loved animals and had a dog named Brandy that was a German shepherd breed.

Jerri attended Indianapolis Public School #14 and Arsenal Technical High School.  Both are located in downtown Indianapolis.  She grew up on 1516 East Market Street and would walk to school every day.  Her favorite memory from her childhood home was sitting on her small front porch.  Also, she remembers the beautiful brick street and alley where she and her brother played as children.

Jerri graduated high school in 1962.  She moved out with a group of girls and began to attend college classes at IUPUI.  She started working part-time for Dr. Yates (dentist).  She had an interest in going to school to be a dental hygienist.  Also, she worked part-time for a surgeon and scheduled all of his surgeries.  In the spring of 1965, at the age of 20, Jerri landed a job as a flight attendant with US Airways.  Her Dad had to sign a form to allow her to work as a flight attendant since was not 21 yet.  Jerri loved working as a flight attendant.  She enjoyed socializing with passengers and traveling around to the big cities in the United States.  She often talks about her days as a flight attendant as being some of her best memories as a young adult. 

Jerri met Alan in 1964 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom.  Jerri’s roommate introduced them to each other.  Jerri said that there was a guy that kept asking her to dance, but she was not interested.  She asked Alan if he would pretend to be her date so the other guy would leave her alone.  Alan said YES and they enjoyed dancing together.  She remembers Alan not being the best dancer, but being very sweet and kind to her.  Jerri + her friends invited Alan + his friends to the After 8 Club where they all hung out together for the rest of the evening.  Alan and Jerri exchanged phone numbers and began dating from that point on.  Two weeks later, Alan introduced Jerri to his family in Fremont, Indiana.  Jerri really liked his family – she thought his Mom (Gladys) was a great cook, his Dad (Wayne) had a great sense of humor and zest for having fun in life and his sister (Sheila) was kindhearted.  Jerri remembers how the table was set that day – the finest china, silverware and glasses.  She said it looked so beautiful and elegant.

Alan proposed to Jerri on her front porch (1516 East Market Street home) in December of 1965.  Jerri began planning right away for her big day.  Her white wedding dress was handmade from a lady in the Indianapolis area.  Jerri left her job at US Airways about 1 week before her wedding date because flight attendants were not allowed to be married and work in the airlines at that time.  Alan and Jerri were married on June 5, 1966 in Fremont, Indiana.  They were surrounded by family and friends on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  One special moment that Jerri remembers from her wedding day was crying along with her Dad as they walked down the aisle together.  Her Dad (Paul) said to Alan, “She’s all yours.  Good luck!”  Alan said, “Is that good or bad?”  Everyone in the church chuckled with laughter.  Unfortunately, Jerri’s Mom (Litha) had a heart attack a few days before her wedding so she was unable to attend.  Jerri was going to postpone her wedding date, but her Mom insisted that she move forward and get married as planned.  Alan and Jerri did cancel their honeymoon to the Smokey Mountains and stayed in a hotel in Indianapolis to be closer to Litha while she was recovering.

Alan and Jerri moved to Indianapolis after they got married.  They lived in a small apartment on Michigan Road.  Alan did a 3 month internship with Dr. Vollrath.  Then, they spent 6 weeks in Wichita, Kansas for basic training in the Air Force.  After training they moved to Columbus, Mississippi where they spent the next 2 years.  Alan was a captain in the Air Force and was an assistant to an OBGYN doctor on the base.  One night, he helped deliver 11 babies one night, which was a record at that time.  Fortunately, Alan did not have to leave the base and serve in the Vietnam War because he was one of the designated doctors on base.  That was an answered prayer from Alan, Jerri and their families.

Jerri began working as an interior designer while she was living in Mississippi.  She decorated the window displays for a popular department store in the downtown area, decorated the Officer’s Club on base and helped several of the ladies on base decorate their homes.  Alan and Jerri made several good friends (Moose + June Kraus, Larue + Peggy Currington) while in Mississippi and often talked about those times were some of the best years of their marriage. 

Alan and Jerri moved to Fort Wayne at the end of 1968.  They moved to a small house on Duane Drive where they would live for the next 6 years.  Alan joined University Park medical group and began building his family practice.  Jerri began her interior design business – Decorators Gallery, Inc.  She would later change her business name to J.L Associates, Inc.  Also, she began volunteering for the Medical Alliance of Indiana.  She made new friends, loved her neighbors and was really enjoying her new life in Fort Wayne.  Jerri remembers Duane Drive being a quiet street where all the neighbors were friendly and got along well with each other.  They had a patio and their neighbors would come over and hang out with them during the warm summer months.

Alan and Jerri decided it was time to start a family.  Jerri was 26 years old and Alan was 32 years old.  Jerri remembers being very happy when she found out she was expecting her first child.  She enjoyed decorating his room and loved the shaggy red carpet that they added.  She wanted his room to be bright and colorful.  It was a smooth pregnancy and Todd was born on May 15, 1971.  Jerri had a dream as a teenager that she would grow up, get married and have a son named Todd with blonde hair + blue eyes.  That is exactly what happened.  Todd was a healthy 8 pound, 6 ounce baby boy.  Funny story – Todd looked so much like Alan that the nurses made tiny black rimmed glasses and put them on Todd.  Alan and Jerri got a good laugh from the nurse’s sense of humor.

The most fun part about being a first time parent was taking Todd to new places and seeing his excitement.  Jerri said that they always stayed in nice hotels when they traveled.  She has wonderful memories of spending time with Todd as a baby and toddler.  Funny story – Alan and Jerri took Todd to Disneyworld and he got lost.  They both panicked until they found him about 15 minutes later.  A sweet lady found him wandering around so they called security and took care of him until they were all reunited again.  Jerri said that Todd didn’t even cry because they fed him cookies + juice while he waited.  He was all smiles when they reached him. J

In 1974, Alan and Jerri built their dream home and moved to 6309 Popp Road where they would spend the rest of their lives.  Alan wanted the house to look like a lodge, but Jerri wanted a more formal look.  They found a compromise and their architect (Rich Hersha) designed a beautiful home for them.  Jerri’s favorite room of the house was the sunken room with the stone fireplace.  Alan’s favorite room was the garden room.  They both loved the back patio where they spent a lot of time in the summer.

Alan and Jerri decided that they wanted to have more children.  Unfortunately, they suffered a miscarriage soon after trying to have another baby.  Jerri did get pregnant again, but almost lost the baby in the early stages of pregnancy due to bleeding.  She was put on bed rest for 3 months and continued on with her pregnancy.  Her water broke (2 weeks early) while she was snipping green beans in the kitchen.  A few hours later, her baby girl was born.  She weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces.  Natalie was not breathing properly and was a blue color at birth.  The doctors rushed Natalie to an emergency area where she was hooked up to machines right away.  Alan and Jerri didn’t get to hold her for several hours.  Jerri remembers feeling overwhelmed with joy when she held her daughter for the first time.  She was so happy that she had a girl.  Jerri described her baby girl as being tiny, quiet, happy and gentle.  Jerri wanted to name her Natasha or Tara (from a plantation in the movie Gone with the Wind), but Alan wanted to name her Natalie.  Alan quickly signed the documents and named her Natalie Lynn.  Jerri said that Natalie loved being held.  Natalie had breathing spasms and it was difficult for her to catch her breath at times. Alan and Jerri took Natalie to the Mayo clinic, but they could not find anything wrong and said that she would hopefully outgrow her condition.  Jerri stayed close to Natalie and would not leave her alone until she was almost 3 years old.  Natalie outgrew her condition around age 5 and did not have any complications during her childhood and adult years.

Jerri continued to work as an interior designer while raising Todd and Natalie.  Jerri’s first big project was a bedroom on the 2nd floor of The Decorators Show House in Fort Wayne.  Jerri worked with 3 different builders during her career and decorated several parade homes during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Also, she worked at Ethan Allen and Kittles furniture store in Fort Wayne.  Jerri had hundreds of clients that she worked with through the years.  Jerri often became good friends with her clients and enjoyed the friendships she made along the way.  Jerri said, “I loved taking something from nothing and making it beautiful and I loved changing the look of a room with paint and/or wallpaper.  I enjoyed making people happy through my design work.”

Here a few questions that Jerri answered about her life:

  1. What do you remember most about your mom and dad?  I remember my Mom being a great southern cook.  She was a giving person and always tried to help others.  She was always there for me.  My Dad was always supportive of me.  I loved my Dad’s sense of humor.  I liked playing tricks and joke on my Dad.  When I was a kid, my Dad spanked me and he cried.  He said that he would never spank me again and he never did.  He would correct me and make me sit on a chair, but he never spanked me after that 1 time.  My Dad was proud of our country.  He never complained about serving in World War II.  He was quiet, gentle, easy going, protective and funny.  He had the best laugh!  I always knew that both my Mom and Dad loved me unconditionally.  My parent’s always made plans to get together with our family, which I really loved while growing up.  Family was always important to them. 


  1. If Grandma and Grandpa Smith had a message for you and their grandchildren, what do you think it would be? Don’t take life for granted and enjoy every day.  Stay positive, not negative.  Spend time with your family!


  1. What is one of your childhood memories?  I remember getting a bike for either my 7th or 8th birthday.  My Dad bought me a girl’s bike, but I really wanted a boy’s bike (with the bar across the middle) just like my brother’s bike.  I was so sad because it looked so girly.  A few years later, I did end up getting a boy’s bike and loved it!


  1. How did you choose your interior design career and what was your favorite part about it?  I would cut fabrics as a little girl and loved moving furniture and pillows around to make it look different.  My favorite part about being an interior designer was meeting with my clients and helping them create something beautiful in their homes.  I enjoyed bringing 2 people (husband + wife) together and creating a look or feel based on their personalities, not mine.  Every home looks different because we are all different in our own unique way.


  1. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?  Black cherry


  1. What are your favorite kinds of pie?  Apple and cherry


  1. What are your favorite colors?  My favorite colors are coral, peach, black and cream.  My Mom dressed me in bright colors, especially red, when I was younger.  I always stood out in the crowd like a “sore thumb” and didn’t like it.


  1. What was your favorite toy as a child?  A big truck


  1. What was your favorite TV show as a child?  Rin Tin Tin (about a dog) + Mickey Mouse cartoons


  1. What’s the best place you’ve traveled?  Greece


  1. What’s your favorite technological invention that occurred in your lifetime?  Iphones + Facebook


  1. What made you successful at work? Doing something that I enjoyed made me successful.  I love interior design so it never seemed like work for me.  It always made me feel happy to create something new.


  1. What’s your wow factor (what makes you uniquely you) and what are the moments that helped shape it?  Coffee + laugher + friendships + conversations + reading make me unique.  Moments that helped shape me:  When someone told me that I could not do something then that gave me energy and power to go get it done.  I liked challenges and had a lot of determination to get what I wanted.  I never gave up. 


  1. What’s a moment that made you feel incredibly humble?  I felt humble when I was on the Fort Wayne Business magazine.  I got a lot of attention during that time, but I did not feel like I deserved it.  People complimented my design work, but I did not do it for the praise or compliments.  I genuinely enjoyed my work and was humbled by all the attention from that magazine.


  1. What’s your greatest fear?  My greatest fear is that I would lose my mind/memory, or become paralyzed before I die. I want to be able to function independently until the end of my life. I want to have my own mind and be able to drive my car.  I want to maintain my freedom.


  1. Which 3 events most shaped your life? The 1st event(s) that shaped my life was walking through the journey of my Mom’s health problems and being in/out of multiple hospitals as a child & teenager.  It gave me a real appreciation for my life and that I needed to take good care of my body and overall health.  I stayed away from drugs/alcohol because I didn’t want to damage my body.  The 2nd event that shaped my life was becoming a Christian as a child.  I didn’t quite understand everything, but it gave me a foundation and helped me with making good decisions in my life.  I went to a Nazarene church and there were a lot of rules + restrictions that I didn’t like at all.  It was very legalistic to me in many ways.  I stopped going to the Nazarene church in 8th grade and began attending the Holy Cross Catholic Church with my good friend.  I continued to go to the Catholic Church until about age 18.  Then, I began attending a Methodist Church in Indianapolis.  Alan grew up in a Methodist Church in Fremont so when we met he was happy to hear that I was already attending a Methodist Church.  His Mom and Dad were happy about that too.  The 3rd event that shaped my life was in my late twenties.  I fell down the stairs at our first home on Duane Drive and was temporarily paralyzed for about 1 hour.  It was the scariest feeling and I was so worried that I broke my neck.  I thought that I would never walk again.  Thankfully, I got feeling back in my legs again and everything was fine.  It definitely left me with an appreciation for being able to walk and get around so easily.


  1. What do you remember most about the day that Todd and Natalie were born?  On the day that Todd was born, I remember being so happy that I gave birth to a healthy boy on a beautiful spring day.  Also, I remember his little hands being curled up next to his chin when I held him for the first time.  On the day that Natalie was born, I remember feeling scared that she was born early and that her oxygen was not good.  Also, I remember feeling relieved and filled with joy when I held her for the first time.  I was so happy that our second baby was a girl.  I always wanted a boy first and then a girl second.  I remember Natalie being so tiny, gentle and sweet when I held her for the first time. 


  1. Were you ever scared to be a parent?  No, I never felt scared.  I was excited to be a parent and viewed parenting as a blessing.


  1. What 3 words represented your approach to parenting and why?  Unconditional love, patience and kindness because that is how my Mom and Dad parented me.  I wanted my children to know that I was always there no matter what they did in life, whether it was good or bad.


  1. What’s are 3 of your favorite memories of being a mom? The birthday parties, driving Natalie and her friends to Lake Shafer in Monticello, IN and traveling with the kids.  Also, I enjoyed going to Cedar Point with the kids.


  1. If Alan were still living what would you want to tell him?  I would tell him that I love him and I’m thankful that he gave me 2 beautiful children.  I would tell him that I was sad and it was not fair that he had to go so early.  I would tell him that I was glad that he came back so I could talk to him again.  And . . . let’s go out for dinner!


  1. Which words best describe how you want to be remembered?  Conversations over coffee + my sense of humor and laughter + my love for people + my giving heart + my commitment to my family + my positive attitude in life + helping people make their homes comfortable & beautiful with my interior design work


  1. What do you think the world needs more of at this time?  We need more unity, love and understanding of each other’s thoughts/beliefs/opinions in our nation.


  1. What do you believe people want the most in life?  I believe that people just want to be loved and respected.


  1. What were the 3 best decisions you ever made? The best decisions of my life were getting married to Alan, having children and living out my dream job as an interior designer.


  1. What are the 3 worst decisions you ever made?  The worst decisions of my life were speeding in my car when I was younger (and constantly getting tickets), making more time for “date night” with Alan and spending more time on our marriage through the years and trusting too many people in the business world (which led to people taking advantage of me in multiple business situations).


  1. What are you most proud of in life? I am most proud of how my children turned out as adults and all the grandchildren that I have been bless with. 


  1. What were 5 of the most positive moments of your life?  The 5 most positive moments of my life are:  My marriage, Todd, Natalie, good friends and family.


  1. What message would you like to share with your grandchildren?  Get together with your cousins often and make fun memories together through the years.


  1. What are you most thankful for?  I am most thankful for my life – good health, family and wonderful friends.


  1. If money were no object what kind of party would you throw and where? I would throw a party in Florida for all my family – kids, grandchildren, cousins, aunts and uncles.  I would pay for everyone’s expenses.  It would be a happy party!


  1. Which language would you like to speak fluently?  French


  1. What was your favorite childhood meal? My favorite meal was pizza on Friday nights.  We got to watch our favorite TV shows on Friday nights too.


  1. What’s the best way to spend a rainy weekend? Curl up with a blanket and watch TV.  Get together with friends for lunch/dinner at a nice restaurant.


  1. What makes you laugh the hardest? Retelling old stories about funny things that have happened in my life or family members lives.  One of the funniest things that I did happened around Thanksgiving 2018.  We were at Todd’s house and we put my friend, Laura, in the trunk of my car.  I asked Todd and Shawn if they could help me carry some food inside that was in my trunk.  Todd opened my trunk and Laura jumped up and scared both Todd and Shawn.  I laughed so hard!


  1. Where would you most like to travel?  Como, Italy


  1. What do you think is the ideal age? I think the ideal age is 39 you are not too young and not too old.  The age of 39 was my favorite age because I already had my children, my career and I knew what direction I was headed.  I had accomplished many things in my life by the age of 39.  I still joke around with everyone that I’m going to stay 39 forever and never get older.


  1. In what era would you most like to have grown up?  In the 1920’s or 1930’s because of the style of clothing.  I loved movies from that time period.


  1. What would you most like to ask God?  To please keep my family safe, healthy and happy.


  1. What do you think Heaven will be like?  I think it will have street of gold, and look like beautiful like a paradise.  I think that I will see all my family in friends in Heaven too.


  1. If you could have a conversation with a deceased friend or relative who would you choose? I would like to talk to Alan and my Mom and Dad.


  1. What is your favorite season of the year?  Spring is my favorite, then fall, summer and winter is last


  1. What change would you most like to make for your health? That my left foot would not hurt due to a break many years ago.  Now, I have arthritis and it hurts when I walk up/down stairs.


  1. What life experience has strengthened you the most? My interior design business and working on the Parade of Homes in Fort Wayne.  I felt a lot of pressure and I was on a time schedule, which was stressful, but taught me a lot.


  1. How do you define integrity and do you have it? What is integrity?  Oh yes, I am very honest, loyal and giving.  Yes, I do have integrity.

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