Elizabeth Woodward

Woodward, Elizabeth Smoak,


70, succumbed in the predawn of June 23, 2017, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital to a life-taking cancer with her youngest daughter by her side. Her absence will be profoundly felt by her family and friends. She spent most of her youthful life in the deep South and was no stranger to joie de vivre or hurricanes. Born to Clyde Donald Smoak and Louise Craven Smoak in Coral Gables, Florida, she spent many of her early years in Mississippi and Louisiana, in particular, Gulfport, Slidell and New Orleans. Her marriage would later take her to South Carolina and then Kansas.


A piano prodigy, she won a statewide Florida music award at age 12 after memorizing 27 pages of Haydn and while straining to reach the pedals during her performance. Throughout her life she played classical and popular music. Among her favorites was ragtime, which she played exuberantly, especially Scott Joplin’s classic “The Entertainer.” In her 50s, she broadened her musical talent by mastering the church organ. She enjoyed playing for children’s choirs. A tall, willowy blond, she loved to dance and was very good at the shag, the South Carolina swing dance that developed on the beaches in the 1930s and still livens southern coastal nights. Her laugh was ever filled with merriment.


Life, of course, does require a serious side, and she had one. Valedictorian at Slidell High School, she graduated from the University of South Carolina with honors at a busy time when she was mothering two daughters. Later, helping to pay their college tuition involved a decade or so of assisting both the Lawrence District Court and the Kansas Court of Appeals in their dispensation of justice. Something of a perfectionist, Beth could be a tough judge of herself—even of her superb cooking. In her eyes, however, her granddaughters were wonders of the world, the best possible palliative for the chronic pain that persisted during the last two decades of her life.


She is survived by her daughters Laura Woodward Garrison (husband Troy) of Atlanta and Kate Woodward Vanderpool of Overland Park; their father, Fred M. Woodward; her granddaughters Claire, Molly, and Lily Vanderpool; her mother Louise Craven Smoak of Atlanta; and her brother Charles Donald Smoak of Ponchatoula, Louisiana.


A party to celebrate her life and share memories will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the Susan G Komen organization, which has done tremendous work to address breast cancer on multiple fronts.


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