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Obituaries

Marybelle McGovern Smith

Marybelle McGovern Smith, widow of the late Claude E. Smith of Tyrone, passed away at home in San Francisco on July 18, 2005 after a long illness. Daughter of the late John and Florence (Mattern) McGovern, she was a 1932 graduate of Tyrone High School. Marybelle was baptized, confirmed and married at First Evangelical English Lutheran Church in Tyrone.
Following her husband’s death in 1974, she spent winters with her son, Donald, in San Francisco, and moved there permanently in 1980. There, she transferred her membership to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, adjacent to Martin Luther Tower, where she lived for 21 years. Active in the church all her life, she served as a counselor for the San Francisco Night Ministry, volunteered for events at Martin Luther Tower, St. Marks Senior Center, St. Mark’s monthly dinners for persons with HIV/AIDS, St. Mark’s program for providing meals and housing for the homeless, Central Gardens Worship Ministry, Women of ECLA, and visited shut-in members of the church. As a member of Lutherans Concerned, she visited Bay Area Lutheran churches to explain the benefits of becoming a Reconciled-In-Christ congregation.
Since its inception fifteen years ago, Marybelle was a faithful supporter of Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries, which raises funds to enable ministry by openly gay and lesbian pastors throughout the United States. Last January, Marybelle was the recipient of three awards for her commitment, dedication and sacrifice on behalf of sexual minority persons: LLGM’s Voice of Distinction, a Certificate of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco, and a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Legislature.
Marybelle was one of the original members of the San Francisco chapter of PFLAG. She served as Co-Chair of the group, attended national conventions, spoke to numerous school and church groups, appeared on radio talk shows and was one of six PFLAG parents profiled in the 1984 documentary film Parents Come Out, which was shown on Public Television many times throughout the 1980s and 90s. She was SF-PFLAG’s phone contact for many years, counseling callers throughout the United States.
Marybelle is survived by her son Donald L. Smith and his life-partner Merrill (Bud) Budlong, both of San Francisco; sisters Edna Burley and Peg Nearhoof of Tyrone; five sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law, all of Tyrone; and numerous nieces and nephews.
There will be a memorial service on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 3 p.m. at First English Lutheran Church, Tyrone. Her ashes will be interred next to her husband’s grave, at Blair Memorial Park, Bellwood.
Donations in Marybelle’s memory may be sent to First English Lutheran Church, 17 West 13th Street, Tyrone, PA 16686, or to San Francisco PFLAG, PO Box 640223, San Francisco, CA 94164.