Chimney Sweep

LaVonne Smith Obituary (1934 – 2019) – Ferndale, WA

LaVonne Siefken Smith
April 8, 1934 – February 12, 2019
Born during the Great Depression in Redding, California, an only child who was adored by her parents. She would remember how her father, Harry, a building contractor, surprised her with her first indoor plumbing job when she was five years old, and with his tenacity as he traveled door-to-door as a chimney sweep when work was scarce. She boasted about her mother, Clara, an accountant, and her tireless volunteer efforts alongside LaVonne in the Masonic Youth Service Organization, the Rainbow Girls and the Methodist Church. In high school, she starred in Down In The Valley and was admired for her beautiful voice and many musical talents.
She remembered her parents' importance of the power of education and their support and encouragement as she enrolled in the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, in 1952. As a music education major, she was proficient in several instruments, most notably clarinet, piano and voice. She was president of Mu Phi Epsilon and sang in the a cappella choir.
Music was her first love until she met and married her husband Don Smith in 1955. Together they completed their education at UOP and eventually moved to Chico, California to raise their two children. They spent family vacations camping on the California coast, in Tahoe and Oregon. Her respect for nature and her gentle spirit undoubtedly stemmed from her deep reverence for all living things, past and present.
LaVonne has enriched the lives of countless children as a music educator for the Chico Unified School District. During her more than 25-year career, she introduced students to music with choir, band and orchestra and sacrificed evenings at home for rehearsals and concerts. Her enthusiasm and commitment to musical enrichment were admired by her family, friends and community.
After retiring, she and Don moved to Washington state, where they lived briefly on a boat and eventually reconnected with their community in Birch Bay, volunteering in music programs at nursing facilities and as a singer and pianist for various churches and Eastern Star to engage. With three grandchildren in California and cold winters in the north, she then spent winters in Sonoma, where she shared her love of music in each of her classrooms, as well as her voice and piano with Eastern Star and the Methodist Church. Over the course of fifteen years, she also developed a stream of after-school piano students, culminating in a spring concert each May before returning to Washington State for the summers. She was so proud of each of them and had an uncanny way of harnessing their uniqueness. As with her own children and grandchildren, she made each child feel individually understood and important. She was full of insight and patience.
LaVonne was fascinated by and studied the subjects of numerology and astrology and enjoyed helping those who would become her clients. She loved the orchestra and the opera. She looked best in purple and knew it, and back then she could wear an Oakland A's baseball cap like nobody's business. Mention ice cream and she was at the door any day, any time.
Her family and caregivers will remember her as a “songbird.” We will sorely miss this voice, her gentle presence. As Don noted, “Her love of music was paramount throughout her life.”
She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Don Brooks Smith of Bellingham, Washington, her son Greg Smith of Chicago; her daughter Lori Maggioncalda of Sonoma and her three grandchildren Danny (San Francisco), Greg (Seattle) and Emma (Seattle) Maggioncalda.
A special thank you goes to the carers of people with dementia and their families. It requires the deepest kind of love and patience. Our families are forever grateful to each and every one of you.

Published by Sonoma Index-Tribune on May 24, 2019.

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