Eviedee Smith of North Little Rock celebrated her 100th birthday on Aug. 5. She was born in 1913 to Henry and Viola Harrison of Enola, Arkansas. She was one of six children; three boys and three girls.
Smith graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1934 where she received awards in math and spelling. After graduation she worked at Adkins Cafeteria as a server and cashier. It was here that she met Richard Smith. Richard and Eviedee were married on June 30, 1938, in Little Rock.
Smith has a large extended family of nieces, nephews, and close friends. Many of these relatives were in attendance at her 100th birthday celebration.
Smith, who has resided in North Little Rock for 79 years, celebrated her birthday at her home on College Park Drive. She is the second of the six children of her parents.
While she was born in Enola her family moved to England where her other four siblings were born.
After another move, this time to Cabot, Eviedee attended Jacksonville schools where, in 1931, she received her Junior High diploma and then her high school diploma three years later.
“She was an excellent student who received numerous awards in spelling and math,” said family member Tina Wyman.
After graduating high school, Eviedee moved to North Little Rock and took her first job other than picking cotton in her younger days.
Here at Adkins Cafeteria, she met prominent North Little Rock Optometrist Dr. Richard B. Smith. The two were married in Little Rock in June of 1938. The Smiths lived on North Main Street in their combined residence-office until 1974. Then, after 36 years of marriage with no children, Dr. Smith passed away, leaving 61-year-old Eviedee a widow with few marketable job skills. H
“However, her intelligence, strong work ethic, and the determination to support herself had a somewhat surprising but very successful outcome in the 39 years she has lived alone since her husband’s death,” said Wyman. “Using her math skills and the money she obtained by selling the original residence-office (a prime piece of property torn down in the name of ‘progress’ in the city) as well as the funds she received from the sale of several rent houses she owned, Eviedee began investing in Certificates of Deposit. She chose to live frugally and followed the philosophy that ‘a penny saved is a penny earned,’ and her guideline and motto was ‘waste not, want not’.
Her advice to young and old alike, which she herself practiced religiously, was ‘buy only what you need, not what you want’.
She is known to her family as Aunt Eviedee.
As a student, and even now, Eviedee was outstanding in penmanship. All during her life she has pass many hours writing long newsy letters to her parents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, as well as friends. In her correspondence, Eviedee usually includes words of wisdom, advice, clippings from various literary publications, and coupons for saving while shopping.
Eviedee never learned to drive and always ask whoever was taking her somewhere “How fast do you drive?”
If the answer is above 50 mph, she firmly tells the driver “I don’t want to go that fast.”
On Aug. 5, two dozen family, friends, and neighbors met at her house to celebrate her 100th birthday. One nephew and his wife came from Des Moines, Iowa and a step-granddaughter travelled from Oakdale, N.Y. to attend the special event.
When asked what she attributes for her longevity, Eviedee replies, “Work, work, work, helping your family in emergency situations, and no alcohol or tobacco.”
While her birthday celebration joyfully proceeded, a family meeting was held to discuss what would be best for Aunt Eviedee’s future after achieving her desired goal of living until she became 100 years old.
The family decision was to move her to Jonesboro to a health and rehab so that she could be closer to family. At this time, Eviedee seems to be adjusting well to her new residence, said Wyman.