Jan Smith, pro-life champion and founder of Family Resources Center, dies at 88

Jeannette A. "Jan" Smith

MORTON — A funeral was held on March 16 for Jeannette A. “Jan” Smith, the founder and longtime director of the Family Resources Center in Peoria. She was 88.

Mrs. Smith died March 11, 2023, in Morton.

“I learned with sadness about the death of Jan Smith,” said Father William Miller, chair of the Diocesan Respect Life Board. “Her passing marks the end of an era of pro-life work in our diocese led by a valiant woman with a big heart for the cause of life and a strong will to protect the unborn and care for their mothers.

“She was singular in her dedication to supporting families so they would have access to the resources for solid education and wholesome entertainment by what they read and watched. The Lord alone fully knows all she did for the Family Resources Center and the endless hours she devoted to the Respect Life Dinner, the parish respect life representatives and the Mother’s Day newspaper ad, to name a few,” he added, noting that to remember Mrs. Smith is to remember her husband, Pete, who did so much for her and alongside her.

Born Nov. 2, 1934, in East Peoria, Mrs. Smith was the daughter of Irvin and Elizabeth (Kuhar) Donath.

She married Edward “Pete” Smith on April 16, 1955, and they had 68 years together. He survives as do their children, Michael (Barb) Smith and Susan Irwin, all of Morton, and Cindy (Greg) James of Dunlap; seven grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and her brother, Jerry (Rita) Donath of East Peoria.

A teacher in area schools, she left in 1980 to found the Family Resources Center, which provided free-loan resources that taught reverence for life. She would see the center move from its location downtown Peoria to a new building across from the Spalding Pastoral Center in 2013.

For her many years of service there, she received the Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice Medal, a papal honor, in 1993, and the Pere Marquette Award from the Diocese of Peoria in 2002.

“Please join me in praying for Jan to be rewarded with eternal rest in heaven, and for the comfort of Pete and their family,” Father Miller said.

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