Jane Smith
Jane Smith

Obituary of Jane Ellen Smith

It is with sadness that we announce the death of Jane Ellen Cotts Smith on March 3, 2024. Born to Mary and Gerritt Cotts, MD, in Chicago, IL on July 14, 1926, Jane's long life was filled with love, family, and adventure. In 1948, she earned a BS in zoology from Northwestern University where she met her husband, Hugh A. Smith, MD (deceased) of 72 years. They were married in Chicago, July 21, 1950.

Jane and Hugh began married life in Chicago where Gerritt and Lisa were born. Later, during Hugh’s Air Force service in Wichita, KS, Kimberly was born. After a few years in Greeley, CO, where Wendy was born, the family settled in Elmhurst, IL. In 1999, Jane and Hugh relocated to Tucson full time. A dedicated mother and elegant hostess, Jane raised her family in a home filled with holiday gatherings and celebrations. A planner extraordinaire, Jane created incomparable trips for her family including rafting the Colorado River, driving to Alaska, crossing the Kansas prairie in a covered wagon and dozens of family reunions. She instilled a love of nature in her children and grandchildren, leading “mommy’s nature walks,” always with a wildflower guide in hand.

Jane valued the arts as much as natural history, giving them equal attention personally, as a mother and as an educator. She played piano and cello; her children grew up attending music lessons, art lessons, the theater, ballet and occasionally the opera. Jane made regular visits to the Chicago Art Institute to inform herself as “Picture Lady” in grade school classrooms for each of her children.

As a young woman, Jane crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Mary and returned on the QEII with her brother Bill (1948) and took regular summer family trips west, including traveling to the YMCA of the Rockies in Colorado. She, with Bill and her mother, rode mules in the Grand Canyon in 1937. Her love of travel grew with her family, and then with her adventuresome husband. Together they visited 80+ countries on seven continents, always taking time to learn about the places and people that they saw.

More than anything, Jane found happiness in her family. Her immense pride in her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren was palpable. With an excellent memory until her final hours, Jane delighted the people around her with stories of motherhood and other adventures.

Jane is missed by her family: brother William Cotts, MD (Burr Ridge, IL); son Gerritt Smith, MD (Debra); daughters Lisa Fox (Darrell), Kimberly Otero (Walter), and Wendy Meluch (Ray); grandchildren, Andy Smith (Marina), Ryan Smith (Christine), Gabriel Smith (Ashley), Lilyana Smith, Abigail Fox (Nick), Benjamin Fox (Gabrielle), AnnaRose Otero Colvert (Dustin), Allen Otero, Beata Meluch, Forrest Meluch, Suzanne Cox (Josh), Brett Winger (Bridget), Scott Otero, and Raymond Otero; and 23 great grandchildren. She is predeceased by her husband of 72 years, Hugh Allen Smith, MD; sister-in-law, Marilyn Steele; daughter-in-law, Sara Ann Smith, and grandson, Mark Damon Otero.

In lieu of flowers please send donations to Tohono Chul Park Botanical Gardens children’s programs in Tucson or any organization of your choice which benefits children. A service will be held in Estes Park Colorado at the Sara Smith Chapel on July 12.

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Jane
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Brings Broadway Chapel
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