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Celebrating the life of

Elsie Wayne Smith

January 21, 1932 - April 13, 2024

Elsie Wayne Smith

Elsie Wayne Smith passed away on April 13, 2024 at the age of 101. She was born in New York City on January 21, 1923 to Tunis M. Smith, Sr. and Annie Kohlhage Smith. She lived much of her childhood in Twickenham, the backdrop of many family stories about her and her brother, cousins, and neighbors playing and dawdling on the way to school. Her mischievousness was legendary in the family, always marked by a twinkle in her eye that continued throughout her life.

Elsie graduated from St. Vincent’s Academy and attended Armstrong Junior College before entering Mount St. Mary’s Convent in Baltimore, MD. Toward the end of World War II, she left Mount St. Mary’s to help take care of family and returned to earn degrees from Armstrong and the University of Georgia. She then earned an MS degree in biology from Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane University, reflecting her deep interest in nature and science. Reportedly, her thesis was on the sex life of crawfish.

After Tulane, Elsie joined Women in the Air Force (WAF) not long after President Truman established the WAF, which allowed women to serve in the military. From there, she entered the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and graduated with a degree in Physical Therapy, a developing medical field in the US at the time. Early in her career during the polio epidemic of the 1950’s, she provided physical therapy to patients at Warm Springs, GA and the National Rehabilitation Hospital in the Washington, DC area, both of which were at the forefront of treating patients with polio. She returned to Savannah to finish her career as a physical therapist, retiring from Memorial Hospital.

A lifelong lover of animals and nature, she housed numerous dogs, cats, and birds, while also caring for raccoons that lived on her property.

Elsie is survived by her sister, Cecile Smith Griffith; five nieces, Terry Smith Labat, Lynne Griffith, Susan Warner (Scott), Michelle Griffith (Jay), and Ann Hall (Ronnie); 13 grand nieces and nephews; 15 great grand nieces and nephews; and many cousins.

The family would like to thank the management, staff, and volunteers at Spanish Oaks Retreat and Hospice for all their care, especially Keith Munger, Mike Johnson, Beverly Polite, Kim Holmes, Josie Mincey, and Jackie Thomas.

A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 at 10:00 AM at Bonaventure Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions in memory of Elsie might be made to the National Wildlife Federation (, the Humane Society for Greater Savannah (, or a charity you choose.



Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel