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Irene Agnes (Russell) Smathers

May 2, 1923 ~ January 2, 2019 (age 95)

Canton, Irene Agnes Russell “Rene” Smathers, passed away peacefully on January 2, 2019 at Haywood Regional Medical Center surrounded by her family.

She was a native of Haywood County in the Wycle Fork area and the first born of 11 children to the late Walter W. and Celia Massie Russell.  She was also preceded in death by her husband, David Joe Smathers who died in 2010 and a son, Kevin Joe Smathers who died in 1979; four brothers, Walter Russell, Jr., J. Mark Russell, Bobby Ray Russell and Billy V. Russell; two sisters; Ruth E. Russell Caldwell and Florence E. Russell.

Irene worked at the Tannery in Waynesville, Dayco (Dayton), and Rays Department Store in the 1940’s and 1950’s until she met the love of her life, David Joe Smathers.  She retired at the Home Extension Service in Brevard, NC as a nutritionist, at the age of 70.  She lived in many places throughout the eastern United States as she followed her husband David with his work.  Irene is a name that derives from the word “Peace” by early Christian saints.  Those who knew our precious Irene, know that she was a lady of such peace.  She found hers through her Lord and Savior.  Irene was a dedicated wife, mother, sister and friend.  Irene was always the same.  Her positive attitude, her outlook in life and all the love she had to give could set you in the right frame of mind, a calming place especially when you felt down.  She was our rock and remained our rock to the very end of her life.  She taught us all life lessons simply by the way she lived every day.  She said often “Life is a Gift”.  She never complained, never was angry, she always tried to hide her tears and never said a bad, or unkind work to anyone.  Irene wanted to be helpful to everyone that she could.  We learned so much from her just by watching her.  She never met a stranger and often said, “There’s something good in everyone, look and you will find it”.  We will miss this angel of ours, the little sparkling and smiling eyes.  It will be hard to see her likeness again.

She is survived by three sisters, Doris R. Hall (Dennis), of Cruso, Shelby J. Moore and Delma S. Caldwell both of Waynesville; one brother, Samuel Russell (Ruth); a sister-in-law, Patricia Smathers Moulton of Stone Mountain, Georgia; many nieces, nephews, and cousins that loved her dearly.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 5, 2019 in the Canton Chapel of Wells Funeral Home with the Reverend Charles Dean officiating.  Burial will follow at Bon-A-Venture Cemetery, Old Clyde Road.  The family will receive friends from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. prior to the service at the funeral home.  Pallbearers will be Randy Hall, Robby Moore, Steve Mathis, Doug Reece, Joey McKay, Rusty Moore, Kelly Russell and Gary Russell.

Flowers are appreciated and memorials may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN   38105.

The care of Irene has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Homes and an online memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at


Donations may be made to:

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Tel: 1-800-805-5856

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