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Tattnall County mourns the death of community servant Brenda Smith
Brenda Gail Cowart Smith
Brenda Gail Cowart Smith

Brenda Gail Cowart Smith, 71, native of Tattnall County and resident of Reidsville, died Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, surrounded by her loving family.   

Smith was a servant leader in her community and continued to be active in civic affairs up until her death. She held a number of community leadership positions, including most recently serving as secretary of the Tattnall County Development Authority, as advisor to the Junior Board of the Greater Tattnall Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the Tattnall County Library Board. 

Dylan Mulligan worked with Smith as an advisor for the Junior Board of Directors. He claims she was the best of Tattnall County. 

“Few people had an impact like Brenda Smith.  She was a fixture of Tattnall County society and a driving force for good in her community,” Mulligan said. “She gave freely of her time, energy, and skills.  If Mrs. Brenda was involved in an organization or project, you could be rest-assured that it would be conducted with dignity, professionalism, and perfection.  She left her mark everywhere she went, and she never passed up an opportunity to promote her community.

“Perhaps her greatest legacy will be the students and young people whom she mentored.  She changed and inspired countless lives.  I will be eternally grateful for the role that she played in my life, from high school to the present.  From my education to my community involvement to my personal life, Mrs. Brenda always took an interest and made it known how much she cared.

“I count myself privileged to have known her and to have served alongside her.  The world is a better place for her having been in it.”

She also served as State President of the Georgia Association for Gifted Children.

Smith was a 1968 graduate of Reidsville High School where she lettered in basketball all four years. She attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College before transferring to the University of Georgia where she graduated with a degree in Social Work. 

She worked for the Department of Family and Children Services before deciding to pursue a life-long career as an educator.  She began her teaching career at Collins Elementary and later transferred to Evans County where she taught social studies and Georgia history at Claxton Middle School and Claxton High School for over half of her career. During that time, she obtained her Master’s degree in Education in 1987 from Georgia Southern University and later her certification to become a teacher of the gifted. She spent the second half of her career teaching in Tattnall County at Reidsville Elementary and Middle Schools and later at Tattnall County High School (TCHS) where she served as a teacher of the gifted. 

Smith invested in her students both inside and outside of the classroom.  She loved her students and desired that each one achieve his or her maximum potential. 

Smith initiated many special programs for the schools, including the annual Veterans’ Day program at TCHS, which provided an opportunity for students to honor our country’s soldiers. 

One of the highlights of her teaching career was in 2001 being chosen as Tattnall County STAR Teacher by one of her students. She continued to support and encourage the youth in her community until her death. 

During her 33 years as an educator, she served as literary coach, yearbook advisor, and advisor for the Interact Club.  Under her leadership, students in the program for the gifted began a Warrior radio show, receiving the state award for innovation, at TCHS. She also helped launch The Warrior Cry edition to The Tattnall Journal, a page devoted to events and sports at TCHS, in 1996. 

Following her retirement from education, Smith was a writer and staff editor for The Tattnall Journal before the newspaper became The Journal Sentinel, an experience that provided her opportunities to participate in and support a number of community activities and events. She was always ready to edit the paper with a red ink pen in her hand, according to TJS Operations Manager Lillian Durrence. 

“Brenda was a friend that you could always count on. She was always there to listen and give great advice,” Durrence said. “She was a very family oriented person, and I loved her. I miss her so much already.”

TJS Staff Writer and Copy Editor Michele Rapp worked alongside Smith and grew to know and love her as a friend. 

“If I had to describe Ms. Brenda using one word it would be “classy”. I have known her my entire life, but having the privilege of working with her was an experience I will never forget,” Rapp said. “She was an amazing lady, coworker, and eventually, a friend. I looked forward to seeing her when she stopped by the office to chat a minute on her way to wherever she was going that day, with Mr. Louie waiting patiently for her to make her way back to the truck so they could be on their way. She was a breath of fresh air in a world of chaos and I will truly miss her.”

A longtime member of Reidsville United Methodist Church, Smith was a member of the Administrative Board, serving as communications chairperson. She was also a member of the CARE Team, which provided love and support to those in her local community as well as to many others beyond the boundaries of Tattnall County.

She is survived by her husband, Louie Tietgen Smith; her daughter and son-in-law, Daphne Helena Jarriel Totten and Dirk Aaron Totten of Statesboro; a son and daughter-in-law, Jason Louie Smith and Cheryllyn Haikes Smith of Sugar Hill, Georgia; five grandchildren:  Kendall Lily Totten, Troy Smith, Savannah Smith, Kiley Smith, and Brayden Smith; sisters and brothers-in-law, Judith Bland (James F. Bland, Jr.) of Reidsville; Carol Sapp of Bonaire, Georgia;  Lisa Trim (Jackie Trim) of Reidsville; and Kathy Bass (Carl H. ”Chuck” Bass, Jr.) of Glennville; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews, along with many friends. 

She is the daughter of the late Enoch Manning Cowart and the late Helen Meadows Cowart. She was born in Metter but grew up in the Pine Grove community near Collins, and lived in Reidsville for over 40 years. 

Memorials can made to the Helen and Enoch Cowart Scholarship Fund, which benefits a graduating scholar athlete each year from Tattnall County High School, c/o Lisa Trim,  P.O. Box 1703, Reidsville, GA  30453.