Clesta M. Willhite Smith

TRACY – Clesta Mabel Willhite Smith, aged 101, of Tracy passed away Nov. 2, 2013, at Prairie View Health Center. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, at Methodist Church of Walnut Grove. Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. today, Nov. 4, 2013, at Walnut Grove Funeral Home, and an hour prior to the service.

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Stephens Funeral Service of Walnut Grove Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Clesta was born Oct. 7, 1912, to Senator and Susie Anna (Cartwright) Willhite in Palo Alto County, Iowa. When she was a small child, the family moved to a farm south of Lucan, Minn., where she grew up and she attended Country School District #79 through the eighth grade. She was baptized and confirmed in the Trinity Lutheran Free Church on June 10, 1928, in Lucan, Minn. Clesta married Clinton Smith on Aug. 23, 1933, at the Lutheran church parsonage in Lamberton, Minn. They lived in Wabasso, Marshall and, in 1944, moved to Walnut Grove, where they made their home.

Clesta worked various jobs and became the head cook at the Walnut Grove School for 18 years. She also owned and operated The Village Drive-In in Walnut Grove for a number of years. She was very active in her church when she became a member. She taught Sunday school, was a youth leader and president of U.M.W. She was also a lifetime member of the Tracy VFW, Walnut Grove Legion, The Birthday Club and Bible Study Group. She did a lot of sewing, embroidery work and she loved to bake and cook; sharing her backed goods with family and friend when they stopped in for coffee. When she entertained the first thing she did was to put out one of her famous tablecloths, without a wrinkle on it. Her table was not fancy but very neat with lots of good foods.

She is survived by her three daughters, Bonnie (Vernal) Wahl of Westbrook, Beverly Padgett of Fairmont and Darlene Brandt of North Mankato; 10 grandchildren; 34 great-great grandchildren; six step grandchildren; 15 step great grandchildren; and 31 step great-great grandchildren.

Preceding her in death were her parents; husband, Clinton; and one son-in-law, Bud Padgett; all of her siblings, Everett Willhite, George Willhite, Verna Benedict, Iva Arends and Martha Sluss; many nieces and nephews; two step grandsons; and one step great-great granddaughter.