PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Longtime Columbiana resident Jennie Childers Magill Smith passed away July 11 at her new Palm Springs, Calif., home from complications of cancer.
She was born January 20, 1929 in Youngstown, Ohio, of parents George and Elsie Childers, and grew up in Columbiana in an 1860's farm house on Pittsburgh Street, completely restored solely by the hand of her architect father.
In high school, she was active in swimming and was head band majorette as well as head cheerleader of that school's state championship basketball team (1947). She continued studies at Lake Erie College (Painesville) as a music major and then entered the business world, in which she was successful for more than 20 years in Ohio, Chicago, Scottsdale and finally as assistant general manager of Bullock's Century City, California.
In 1956, as bridal secretary for the prestigious Carson-Pirie-Scott Chicago department store, Life magazine chose Jennie for a special December cover article, featuring the pros and cons of working mothers, with the cover picture of her holding young daughter Laurel Ann.
As a young girl, her love of horses was born receiving her first pony at 9.
Following her marriage to James Magill, she became involved in the Ohio 4-H program, particularly with various breeds of horses, with which she, her children and large group she led became experts.
Entering Republican politics soon after, she was one of the youngest County Congressional Central Committee Chairman in Ohio history. This continued until she changed party affiliation and became a Democrat during the Nixon administration.
Following her divorce, she, with two of her three children, moved to southern California, and to more and more positions of importance with Casual Corner and Bullock's. In 1978, while assistant general manager of Bullock's West Covina, she married Topper Smith in Pasadena, a combination that lasted for 34 years.
Enjoying the horse world again, under the direction of her trainer/son Jack, she began showing American Saddlebreds, winning major ribbons in Phoenix, Pomona, Santa Anita and Santa Barbara shows.
Retiring from Bullock's, she began another successful 28-year career in commercial real estate for several major Southern California firms, specializing in office leasing and restaurant sales. For 10 of those years, she was president of the Southern California Restaurant Brokers' Association.
Added to that was her involvement in Democratic politics, starting with the 2000 presidential campaign and continuing until the final month of her life. Moving to Pasadena in 1978, she was later particularly active in the Obama for President campaign, working a Democrat booth at every Saturday's farmers' market and leading a large phone bank organization of 75, making more than 100,000 nationwide calls right before the 2008 election.
As a result of her important and successful activities, she was invited to a private meeting and photo session with President Obama following a USC rally in October, 2010.
Moving to Palm Springs in 2010, she became a major leader within the new Obama campaign, being designated as the California Volunteer of the Month in February, 2011.
She leaves behind her husband, three children; Laurel Ann Morrison (Robert) of Columbiana, Ohio; Sandy Duckworth (Chris) of Corona, Calif.; and a son, John William Magill (and partner Roger Gibson) of Arlington, Texas, plus grandchildren Pamela Jean Morrison and John Robert and Christopher Duckworth.
Her older brother, William Childers was in the Marine Air Corps during World War II, and killed in action in the South Pacific.
A longtime Unitarian-Universalist, she was an active member and part of the Board of Trustees of Pasadena's Neighborhood Church.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.