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Community mourns death of teacher

POSTED: February 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Photo provided / Coastal Courier/

Valerie Futch Smith was studying toward a master's degree to continue her career in education.

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LUDOWICI - Just two weeks ago, 34-year-old Valerie Futch-Smith was teaching her Smiley Elementary School first grade class, and planning to visit her mother in New Mexico.  But on Feb. 1 at 3:45 a.m., tragedy struck, and her husband Jimmy, rushed her to the hospital.
Nine days later, Mrs. Smith died at Candler Hospital in Savannah, leaving her husband and 9-year old son Trysten, to wonder how things could change so quickly.
According to her husband, his wife had polymyositis, a muscle disease characterized by chronic inflammation accompanied my weakness. The weakness usually starts in the muscles closes to the trunk of the body, and can be accompanied by arthritis, shortness of breath, and heart arrhythmias.
"Val had been on medication for the last two and  a half years, and I thought it was working for her good, but then again she wouldn't tell us when things were bothering her, to keep us from worrying," her husband said.
Val Smith's condition worsened as the days progressed in the hospital, until she finally passed on Tuesday (2/12/08).
According to Jimmy Smith, his wife loved going to the coast and she loved to go crabbing. But her biggest joy was her fourth-grade son.
"Val was a stay at home mom until Trysten got old enough for school; then she started teaching," Smith said.
"The two of them were inseparable, if you saw one you saw the other, he even still slept with his mom", he added.
Mrs. Smith wasn't just a great mother, but she also was known as an outstanding teacher.
Smiley Elementary School Principal, Sandy Jones said, "She loved the kids in her class, like they were her own kids. There were many times she was heartbroken over some of the children's home conditions."
The principal added, "When it came to her students, there was many a time, she came to school early, and left late to help deal with different situations in her class.
"She will be missed. Everyone loved her and she was very special."
According to Mrs. Smith's mother, Nancy Jarka, her daughter was pursuing her education in teaching, "Valerie loved teaching and she was half way through finishing her master's."
Jennie Futch, Mrs. Smith's grandmother, said the family has been getting support from the community.
"There has been so much support; from the school, the community, just from everyone, we are just so appreciative for everyone for being so caring and supportive," Futch said.
Jimmy Smith summed up his love and view on his wife by saying, "There won't be anyone like her. There's no replacing her".
A Memorial Fund honoring the memory of Valerie Futch-Smith has been set up at all Heritage Bank locations.
There will be a visitation time honoring the teacher from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday. Her funeral will take be at 2 p.m. Saturday.  Both will held at the First Baptist Church of Ludowici.
 

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