Mrs. Brenda Gail Cowart Smith, 71, native of Tattnall County and resident of Reidsville, died Tuesday at Memorial Medical Center, Savannah, surrounded by her loving family. Daughter of the late Enoch Manning Cowart and Helen Meadows Cowart, she was born in Metter, Georgia, grew up in the Pine Grove community near Collins, and lived in Reidsville for over 40 years.
Brenda 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 where she served as a teacher of the gifted.
Brenda 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. 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 at Tattnall County High School, receiving the state award for innovation. Brenda initiated many special programs for the schools including the annual Veterans’ Day program at Tattnall County High School, 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.
Following her retirement from education, Brenda was a writer and staff editor for The Tattnall Journal-Sentinel, an experience that provided her opportunities to participate in and support in a number of community activities and events.
A longtime member of Reidsville United Methodist Church, Brenda 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.
Brenda 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. She served as State President of the Georgia Association for Gifted Children.
Brenda had many interests, including cooking and watching sports of all kinds. Her culinary skills kept family and friends supplied with delicacies from her kitchen, and she always returned from her travels with armloads of gifts to share with them. Some of her most special memories included family vacations to St. Simons Island and the mountains of Georgia and Tennessee. After retiring, she and her husband Louie worked hard to complete their bucket list and enjoyed many adventurous trips together. An ardent Georgia Bulldogs fan, she traveled far and wide to see them play. A football season ticket holder who never missed a game between the hedges in Sanford Stadium, she was proud to have been present at the 1980 National Championship game in New Orleans in which Georgia defeated Notre Dame and again at the 2022 National Championship game in Indianapolis, Indiana, in which they defeated the University of Alabama.
A loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, she leaves a legacy of love for God, her family, and her fellow man. Family was paramount to her, and her role as “Gigi” to her grandchildren gave her immense joy.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother-in-law, James Larry Sapp, her nephew, Chan Alan Trim, and her niece, Julie Bass Sikes.
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.
Pallbearers will be her nephews Shannon Sapp, Clay Trim, Josh Nelson, Wade Griner, Justin Kirkland, Grayson Gould, Chan Trim and Chris Freeman who was like a son to Brenda.
Visitation will be Thursday evening, April 28, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Bradley B. Anderson Funeral Home, Reidsville. Funeral services will be conducted Friday, April 29, at 2:00 p.m. at the Reidsville United Methodist church with burial in the Collins Baptist Church cemetery, Collins, Georgia.
Memorials can be 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.
Bradley B. Anderson Funeral Services, Inc. is serving the family of Brenda Cowart Smith.