|Honored by:||Valerie K. Rankin|
|Brick location:||F:4 map|
Jeanne Ruth Rankin Smith was born to Harold and Armella Rankin on July 9, 1935 in Denver, Colorado. She had one older brother named Vance George. During this time, Harold worked for the city of Denver doing construction/engineering but times were hard and he had to look for work elsewhere. He was finally offered a job as chief engineer for a construction company in Peru. So on Jeanne's 5th birthday, the family left for Lima, Peru.
Jeanne grew up in Peru; she considers it home. But not all stories of home are happy ones. Because of a heart condition, she was not able to go with her family into the altitude of the Andes. She was placed in the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a foreign and forbidding place where they spoke French and Spanish, not English. The separation from her family was heart wrenching and the treatment by the nuns for sins, imagined and real, was wicked and cruel.
Vance was also sent to Lima to go to school. He was at the Jesuit school for boys. Whenever he could, he would go to get Jeanne. The two of them would have many adventures in the streets of Lima. During this time, Jeanne and Vance formed a bond that was to last all of their lives.
Jeanne has written of her early life in Peru. The stories are filled with adventures of tidal waves, expatriated Nazis, and escaping European royalty. In her youth, Jeanne acquired a thirst for adventure which she has never been able to quench.
The family returned from Peru when Jeanne was in her teens. They settled in southern California. Jeanne finished high school and went onto college. At the insistence of her father, she studied engineering. While in college, she met Derrell Conner. They eloped and one year later they had a daughter, Valerie Kris (me). They divorced when I was 5. They were simply too young.
The mid 1950's were not a time to be raising a child on your own. So Jeanne moved to her parents' house where she could have help with child care while she worked. Jeanne taught herself accounting and spent the next 25 years working her way up from bookkeeper to senior tax specialist in a variety of CPA firms.
Jeanne liked accounting; she always said that it is a good profession for a woman. She fought many battles with men to be accepted as an equal both in position and pay. And she won.
Jeanne's spent her 20's, 30's and early 40's working and raising me. But life was not all work for Jeanne --she had that thirst for adventure and luckily for me she took me along. We went to Europe for the first time when I was 10. When I was 15 she took me to Africa, where she almost sold me for a herd of camels. The only thing that saved me was the guy wouldn't throw in a goat. There were lots of trips in between, lots of adventures. As an adult I've gone around the world myself but my Mom is still my favorite traveling companion.
In her 40's Jeanne fell in love with Robert Austin Smith, Lt. Colonel USMC (ret). They're happy, they're in love. They treat each other with respect and kindness and live by example to their children as to what a successful relationship can be. And they are always off traveling somewhere.
Bob and Jeanne, as everyone knows them, have settled in Petaluma, California. They talk about moving, maybe to Arizona, maybe Hawaii, but then again Spain is nice... If they move the community would miss them; they give a tremendous amount of themselves to the community.
My mother is a wonderful person. She is intelligent, witty and kind. She has always fought for the rights of women, especially in the workplace. She is active in the community in organizations like the Women's Club and various senior groups and every year she volunteers to do tax returns for senior citizens. She is also a wicked bridge player.
Jeanne Ruth Rankin Smith is a good person and anyone who has the opportunity to get to know her should do so. Their life will be richer for having done so.
Submitted on 6/4/95