Reginah Smith has battled her way back from adversity more than once. In 1990, her car was literally torn in half when she hit ice and slid into the path of an 18-wheeler.
Since then, she has endured five different operations on her back, fighting her way back to health each time.
"I'm not lazy," she says, a fact ably illustrated by her devotion to physical activity. Reginah and her sister were avid "Volkswalkers," which is a 6.2 mile event. It was not unusual for them to participate in two - or even three - Volkswalking events in one day. In fact, she was on her way to a Volkswalk in Topeka when she had her accident. Reginah also devoted her days to walking laps around the two gyms at the YMCA and aquasize.
In May of 2005, Reginah's old back problems came back, hitting with severe pain. The physician diagnosed two compressed fractures of the spine. After surgery at St. Luke's in Kansas City, Reginah came home to Pittsburg to recuperate, moving into Via Christi Village for her recuperation. With her typical diligence, she successfully completed a full regimen of physical and occupational therapy, returning home again in time for her 60th high school class reunion in September of that year.
A native of Pittsburg, Reginah graduated from PHS in 1945. She remembers the impact of World War II on her class.
"As soon as any boy turned 18 he got drafted," she recalls. "By our senior year, we didn't have enough boys left in our class to put on a play."
After graduation, Reginah went to work in the Montgomery War catalogue order office. Then she met her future husband.
"I imported him from Weir," she grins. "He was two years older than me and a veteran of World War II. I knew his nephew's wife from church and had met him. I invited him as my guest to Sunday School. We were married six months later. It must have worked - we were married for 54 years."
Elmer worked at Dickey Clay Products for 46 years while Reginah spent the initial years of their marriage raising their four children, Gail, Russ, Blaine and Stan. Today the family has grown to include eight grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. In those years, Reginah worked from sun up to sun down, cooking, sewing and caring for her home and family.
When the oldest child entered high school, Reginah went back to work, first at Hagman's, then Pittsburg State University, then to Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), where she stayed until retiring in 1992. She took care of her father, who lived with Elmer and Reginah for seven years.
Never one to "just sit," Reginah volunteered to serve as an advocate with the Kansas Guardianship Program. "It was a way of giving back," says this deeply religious woman. Right off, her references were so good that she was assigned three individuals. She also delivered meals and remained active in her church.
A severe bout of arthritis in 2011 threatened to incapacitate her, but once again she battled her way through therapy to regain her strength and mobility.
Reginah keeps busy knitting for missionary boxes, volunteering in the Shaping Lives program with the local school, and attending all the Red Hat functions. She keeps her hands and mind active, doing puzzles, reading and knitting. She is known for her encouragement of others, speaking from the heart as one who has been there and overcome obstacles.