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Bobbie C. S. Smith, 78, of Columbia, MO died Saturday, August 29, 2009 at home due to complications from multiple myeloma. Due to her illness, she moved to Columbia, MO from Hendersonville, NC five years ago to live with her son, George, and granddaughter, Lindsey. As a result of excellent care by the Missouri Cancer Associates her symptoms remitted and she lived a full and involved life in Columbia until shortly before her death. She completed a documentary book, Palmetto Boy in the Civil War Era: Letters and Diaries of James Adams Tillman, 1859-1866, which will be published posthumously by University of South Carolina Press. She was actively involved in Alcoholics Anonymous for over two decades of her life.
Bobbie was born March 4, 1931 in Augusta, GA, the first child and only daughter to Dorothy Williams Swearingen, schoolteacher, and George Tillman Swearingen, cotton farmer. During her lifetime, she established and operated several successful businesses based on her artistic talents in floristry and fashion. She is survived by, and will be lovingly missed by, her four children, Charles Wilson Smith, Jr. of Battleground, WA, George Swearingen Smith of Columbia, MO, Mary Coleman Smith Kravitz of Bend, OR and Willard Francis Smith of Gloucester, VA who gave her nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren whom she adored. In addition to her surviving children and their offspring, Bobbie considered a niece, Robin Swearingen Goodson of Charlotte, NC, her niece; Dorothy Batten of Winston Salem, NC, her first cousin; and Mike Williams of Tijeras, NM, her first cousin; as members of her immediate family. She is also survived by a brother, George Tillman Swearingen, of Bishopville, SC, and a half-sister Harriet Toney Shirley, of Charlotte, NC.
Bobbie was an extraordinary person. Born in a deeply segregated area of the South, she was a leading advocate for racial equality, women’s rights, and gay rights in a culture opposed to these ideals. As a result, she cultivated numerous caring and lifelong friendships with people from all walks of life. In the 1960s Bobbie traveled to Atlanta, GA to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak and was an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War; at a time when such associations were not popular. Her children will be forever indebted to her for instilling in them a broader vision of a society untainted by provincial, political and religious prejudices.
Burial will be in Trenton, SC at the gravesite of her father and mother. Memorial services celebrating Bobbie’s life will be held in Columbia, MO and Trenton, SC on a date to be determined. Memorial contributions may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, 383 Main Avenue, 5th floor, Norwalk, CT 06851.