Donna Louise Smith

Published 12:59 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Donna Louise Smith of Farmington Hills, Mich., and a former resident of Greenville, passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012.  A memorial service will be held Saturday, October 27 at 11 a.m. at Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion with Rev. Harold Simpson and Rev. Peggy L. Cook officiating.

Smith was born January 13, 1947, in Greenville to Donnie F. and Selena Greene.  A gifted student, she started at Lomax-Hannon High School one year early. She entered Alabama State College and graduated in three years with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. During college she worked with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee to register African-American voters.

She taught in Butler County schools before entering Tuskegee Institute where she earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. She worked for two years as a student counselor at Paine College in Augusta, Ga., before returning to Tuskegee to recruit and counsel students in a college preparatory program. She also worked as a research assistant in the Tuskegee history department.

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She returned to Greenville to care for her parents. There she started Bridges, Inc., an organization that worked with youth to build their self-esteem, warn against drug use, teach conflict resolution and provide them with cultural opportunities. Working from home, she raised money and arranged bus transportation to take youth to museums as well as dance and musical and theater performances.  They traveled Alabama and witnessed works by masters ranging from Shakespeare to August Wilson. She not only urged them to attend college, but she contacted people who could help them with admission and financial aid. She also worked with children in a summer recreation program.

After moving to Michigan she helped raise funds and obtain supplies to send students to medical school in Cuba for free with Doctors4Detroit. In 2011 she attended the 46th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, which helped pave the way for passage of voting rights.

She leaves her companion, Nathan E Pearson, Jr., M.D. of Farmington Hills, Mich., cousins, John Greene of Wisconsin, Jerome Harris, Jr., of Greenville, Linda Sims of Huntsville, Ala., Johnny Womack of Huntsville, Ala., friends Gloria Hayes of Enterprise, Ala., and Ahmed (Dorotheia) Mbalia of Milwaukee, Wisc.

Ms. Smith was preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Kate Esther Smith.