Ann Cleavinger Smith, age 88, died peacefully in her Chapel Hill home on April 21st, 2019 following a courageous battle with cancer.
Ann was born November 1, 1930 in Burlington, Kansas to Eugene Arthur and Edna Striegel Cleavinger. She spent her youth in Manhattan, Kansas. Ann attended Kansas State University and transferred to the University of Kansas receiving a BS in Occupational Therapy and was a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority.
In 1958, Ann moved to Chapel Hill with her husband and their three young children. She started working when Occupational Therapy was in its infancy, and very few understood the purpose and value of occupational therapy. Ann became one of the original two Occupational Therapists at UNC Memorial Hospital’s newly established Rehabilitation Program. She was well known at UNC Memorial for being a responsive and dedicated ancillary medical professional. When physicians asked for her assistance with a patient, she started immediately, without waiting for the orders or paperwork. Ann was a “people person” who had a knack for making others feel comfortable in her presence. She retired from UNC Memorial Hospital in 1998 following 38 years of service. Ann often spoke of her love working as an Occupational Therapist among wonderful colleagues.
Ann was an active member of Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church and later at University Baptist Church both of Chapel Hill where, among other ministries, she shared her gift for design and decorating. Ann was also a consummate gardener who designed and created beautiful gardens. She followed in the footsteps of her father who was an Agronomy Professor at Kansas State University. University Baptist Church paid tribute to her in November, 2018 for twenty years of service, planting and caring for the Memorial Garden located at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia Streets. The garden plaque reads, “Renewal of the UBC Memorial Garden was made possible by gifts in honor of Ann Smith, whose caring dedication through the years has sustained this lovely retreat in the Heart of Chapel Hill”.
Ann spent years restoring her 100-year-old Chatham County farmhouse. She enjoyed decorating her home with antiques and art. Ann not only admired art, she was an artist in her own right. She carved over fifteen large wooden pieces for family and friends.
Ann was much beloved and will be remembered for her unconditional love, generosity, creativity and her infectious laugh. She leaves her family with many happy memories and hearts full of love.
Ann is preceded in death by her ex-husband, Dean E. Smith and her older brother, Joseph Kay Cleavinger. She is survived by her daughters Sharon (Tim) Kepley of Chapel Hill and Sandy (Steve) Combs of Salisbury, son Scott (Kelli) Smith of Chapel Hill; six grandchildren: Drew (Tami) Kepley, Megen (Michael) Vesser, Morgan (Henry) Stapp, Brian Smith, Luke Combs and Sam Combs; great-grandchildren Ellery, McKinley and Anderson Vesser, Duncan and Etta Kepley; and twin brother Hal Cleavinger (Vergie) of Sanford.
The family extends their appreciation to UNC Physicians and UNC Hospice for their expert and compassionate care during Ann’s illness.
A Memorial service will be held at University Baptist Church, 100 S. Columbia Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 on Tuesday, April 30th at 11:00AM immediately followed by a reception in the church fellowship hall.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to University Baptist Church designated for the Memorial Garden fund.
The Smith family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences: www.hallwynne.com; select obituaries.