Leah Mae Anderson was born on February 3, 1928 in Marine City, Michigan. She was the daughter of Andrew and Addie (Densmore) Anderson. She was the sixth child born to Andrew and Addie. They had eight children; Olga Marie (1911), Ray Densmore (1916), Robert Wesley (1920), Andrew Frederick (1922), Charles Henry (1925), Leah Mae (1928), Herbert Wm (1930), John Hayner (1932).
Andrew was a sailor on freighters in the Great Lakes for many years but eventually he decided to work for the new electrified railroad which took people from Port Huron to Detroit. He worked in the Electric Substation which powered the rail cars. The Substation would eventually become Detroit Edison.
Leah attended school in Marine City and Church at the Marine City Methodist Church. It is at church where she would meet her sole mate, Harold Smith as a teenager. Everett Smith, Harold’s Dad , was a Methodist Minister who became the pastor of the Marine City Church in 1947. They attended High School together. Leah graduating one year before Harold. Leah attended one year of college at Baker learning Secretarial skills.
Leah married Harold Alton Smith on May 27, 1950 in Marine City, Michigan. They settled in Lapeer, Michigan where Harold was working for J C Penny’s and later Egleston’s. While living in Lapeer, they had three of their six children; Pamela (1951), Sue (1953) and Janet(1955). Shortly after Janet was born, They moved to Romeo, Michigan where Harold was now managing Egleston’s second Department store. While living in Romeo, Harold and Leah had three more children; Sharon (1960), Mark (1962), Matt (1964).
Leah was a wonderful “stay at home” Mom. (How do I know? She was my Mother. I am Janet.) She taught all of her daughter’s to sew with the encouragement of Harold who provided the fabric! She taught us to cook and bake. In the summer, she would buy a bushels of peaches, plums and pears and we would preserve them. She taught me to make Jam. All of these skills I still use today.
In 1968, the Smith family moved to Imlay City, where Harold had planned to purchase a Department Store. He had been working in a large family run department store called “Mitzelfelds” in Rochester, Michigan and decided to venture out on his own. This purchase fell thru but in 1971 he bought the first of two Ben Franklin Stores. By this time, all the kids were in school and and Leah began to help Harold out in the store, as did all of his kids!
Harold purchased his second Ben Franklin in Harbor Beach in 1975. He ran both store with the help of his daughter and son-in-law who lived in Harbor beach. Eventually selling the closing the Imlay City store and moving to Harbor Beach permanently. Leah was always ready for Harold’s next adventure, what ever that might be! Harold built an apartment for them in the back of the store and they loved their new adventure.
Harold decided that it was time to sell the Dime store building to the local Druggist who was bursting at the seams in his building around the corner early in 1996. He decided to buy a Century old building across the street and move all his favorite things about the dime store there and leaving behind for the drug store the other “dime store” type items. He and Leah would semi-retire and Pam would run the store and he would dabble in the things he liked, like the framing shop. That was to be their new adventure. As he negotiated these sales, he suddenly died in August 1996. Pam and Leah continued with his plan. They purchased the Corner Store in Harbor Beach and moved the some of the dime store lines, framing, sewing, embroidery, crafting and souvenir lines to the Corner Store and selling the Dime Store to the local druggist . Leah worked with her daughter most days for most of her remaining years.
She blossomed into quite an independent woman after Harold died. I think working in the Corner Store made her feel close to her beloved Harold. She became active in a local Bible Study and remained active with her church. She had a group of friends that she played cards and games with. She did some traveling in the winter and visited friends in warmer climates sometime for several weeks at a time. She joined her children every summer on our week long camping trips to Sand Lake. She bought and maintained her own home. Holidays and Birthday were spent with family.
Leah was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2007. She battled it for two years. I miss her everyday! The most important thing to her was her husband and her family!
She was a grace filled person. She never raised her voice except to sing. I never heard she and my father ever argue or even disagree on anything. She was quiet, gentle and grateful for all the blessings that she had in her life. She was a beautiful faith filled woman. She loved to laugh. Most nights she would stay up late and watch Johnny Carson. You could hear her laughing in the family room at all his funny antics. She love his show.
My Mother, Leah, lost her battle with cancer and died on January 4, 2009, in Harbor Beach, Michigan. She was buried in Rock Falls Cemetery in Harbor Beach next to her sole mate and husband, Harold Smith.
Rest in peace, Mom! I miss you every day!