ermineErmine Smith, long time Austin resident, and public school teacher, passed away December 28, 2013 after a sudden onset of a chronic illness. She is survived by her son George Wayne Worrell and his wife Suzanne of Austin, her daughter Patricia, and her husband, Tom Phelps of Mason, Michigan; Ermine’s granddaughter, Kellye McCulloch, and great-grand- daughter Emaliegh, of Hartville, Ohio; Ermine’s brother, Hiram T. French, and his wife Carole of La Jolla, California, Hiram’s son-in-law, Jerry Proulx, and grandsons Alex and Walter of Burlington, Vermont.

Ermine was born November 19, 1930 to Rosalie and Hiram French in San Antonio, Texas. She graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and Trinity University, in San Antonio. Ermine began her teaching career in Junction, Texas upon graduation. She was married in 1952 to G. L. Worrell of Susanville, California. Ermine then taught special needs children in California while Lee completed his Air Force service and his undergraduate studies at Cal-Poly College. In 1958, Ermine and Lee moved to College Station. Ermine taught high school English and Drama while Lee attended graduate school at Texas A&M. In 1962 she was selected the Outstanding Teacher of the Year at A&M Consolidated High School by the College Station Lion’s Club.

Upon moving their family of four to Austin in 1963, Ermine continued teaching with AISD at Reagan High School where once again she taught English and Drama. The Reagan Drama students competed statewide and received many awards under her direction. In 1980, Ermine was recognized and awarded, the Texas Educational Theater Association’s Founder Award because of her outstanding contributions to educational theater in the state of Texas. Ermine and Lee were Divorced in 1983 and she retired from the Austin Independent School District in 1989.

Ermine happily married W.O. Smith in 1986, an architectural engineer, and longtime Austin resident. They enjoyed a happy life together until his unexpected passing in 2005. Through this marriage, Ermine was a caring grandmother to Trent and Blake Smith, the sons of Clayton and Anne Hyde-Smith of Boulder, Colorado, and granddaughter, Marcy Seals, the daughter of Janet and David Seals of Albany, California.

In 1989, after retirement from teaching high school, she started working for the University of Texas, grading GED tests, until the summer of 2013.

Ermine’s real passion was not only theatre, but also with the Austin Alliance for Mentally Illness. Having learned first hand the challenges faced by individuals and their families, Ermine became a supporting instructor of Family-to-Family classes for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Otherwise, known as NAMI. In 2010, she was awarded the NAMI Lifetime Service Award. Earning this award by teaching affected families, and by making educational contributions to Mental Health Awareness, especially, the impacts that Mental Illness has on other members of the family. The award cited “special contributions and leadership that you have consistently shown in your efforts in the community on behalf of those with mental illness and their family members.” Her efforts continued until her illness began in November 2013.

Ermine was a devoted Christian in the Episcopal Church. She served as President to the St. John’s parish chapter of the Daughters of the King. Your memory will always remain in our hearts, and minds; until we meet again in that heavenly place that you held so dear.

A memorial service is planned for 11:00 AM, January 18, 2014 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 11201 Parkfield Dr., Austin, Texas 78758. Please join us at the reception immediately following the service in the Parrish Hall. Please bring your favorite “Ermine” photos to share; a display board will be available in the vestibule.

Ermine’s family requests that in lieu of flowers a donation be sent to: NAMI AUSTIN, P.O. BOX 302398, AUSTIN, TX 78703.

Obituary and memorial guestbook available online at

Published in Austin American-Statesman from Jan. 12 to Jan. 13, 2014 – See more at:

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