Jean Carolee Borth Smith, 80, of Bonner Springs, Kansas, died after a short illness on Thursday, April 9, 2020, at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.


Jean was born February 6, 1940 in McPherson, Kansas, to Ben and Evelyn Borth, who were wheat farmers. She grew up in rural McPherson and graduated from McPherson High School in 1957. She met the love of her life, Clausie Smith, on a blind date while he was a student at Ottawa University. It was love at first sight. They were wed on June 7, 1959 and were happily married for more than 60 years. In the early years of their marriage, the Smiths lived in McPherson, Council Grove, and Kansas City, Kansas. In 1970, their lives took a dramatic turn when they bought and became publishers of the Mulvane News, a weekly newspaper. In 1975, they moved to Carrollton, Missouri, where Clausie was general manager of the Carrollton Daily Democrat. In Carrollton, and earlier in Council Grove and McPherson, Jean worked as a legal secretary. Then, in 1980 they moved to Bonner Springs, where they bought the weekly Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chieftain and the Basehor Sentinel. Together, they published the newspapers until 2000, when they retired.


Jean was a member of the First Christian Church in Bonner Springs and had recently attended the Bonner Springs United Methodist Church. She was a former member of the Bonner Beautiful Commission. She was a Camp Fire leader and a Girl Scout troop leader when her daughters were young.


She leaves her husband, Clausie, of the home; three daughters, Jill Holder and her husband, Allen, of Bonner Springs; Melody Pence and her husband, Donnie, of Allen, Texas; and Angela Skwarlo and her husband, Stan, of Lawrence, Kansas; two brothers, Jack Borth and his wife, Betty, of Copeland, Kansas, and Bill Borth of rural Wamego, Kansas; five grandsons, Andrew Holder and his wife, Sarah, of Lawrence; Zachary Holder and his wife, Nancy, of Kansas City, Missouri; Marine 2nd Lieutenant Stan Skwarlo III and his wife, Jordan, of Oceanside, California; Samuel Skwarlo of Lawrence; and Shane Skwarlo of Lawrence; two granddaughters, Katie Nolan and her husband, Matt, of Grapevine, Texas, and Kelsey Pence of Dallas; one great-grandson, Peter Daniel Skwarlo of Oceanside; and several nephews and nieces.


Jean was a loving wife and devoted mother, a beloved grandmother and great-grandmother and a cherished aunt. She was a wonderful cook and loved nothing more than hosting and preparing family dinners. She was a gifted seamstress and an avid gardener. Her beautiful gardens were her way of creating a heaven on earth. She will be missed every day by her family.


A private burial service will be held on Tuesday, April 14. The family is planning a celebration of life at a later date.