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Janice Dione (Shirley) Smith made a peaceful transition January 28, 2024. She was born July 8, 1933 to Eldon and Alice (Conitz) Shirley of Beulah, North Dakota. The family moved to Fort Peck the Spring of 1937 during the building of the dam, then on to Billings, MT later that year. Dione lived in many homes primarily in Billings and Laurel, also Fromberg and Red Lodge as they would fix up and sell the houses. Dione graduated from Billings Senior, and Eastern Montana College with a degree in Elementary Ed. She and her former husband Dr. John H. Smith moved to St. Louis, MO while he was in dental school, then later to Larson AFB in Washington State while John was in the Air Force.
The family moved to Laurel, MT in 1961 when John joined his dad’s dental practice. The family then included three young children, Mark, Greg and Holli. In addition to her homemaker duties, Dione was the bookkeeper for the dental practice, and volunteered at the St. Alban’s Episcopal church playing the organ and running the Sunday School programs. She opened up a kindergarten in the family home in 1963.
On Maundy Thursday of 1967, Dione took her first solo cross country flight for her private pilot’s license to Bridger, MT and crashed the plane. After 6 weeks in the hospital and another 6 weeks at home in a full body cast she learned to walk again. In 1969 a foster daughter, Annie Lopez, joined the family.
Dione was involved in numerous volunteering activities including Laurel Parks Dept. where she was instrumental in the building of the then new swimming pool building. She started the Women in Business Club and was involved in Laurel beautification projects, Republican Women’s Club, Girl Scouts neighborhood Chairman, and was the 1st president of the Treasure Trails Girl Scouts Council to serve outside of Billings.
Dione and her friend Donna Kilpatrick took over the Laurel Movie Theater in 1977 which she co-owned until 1982. In 1984 Dione and John bought the movie theater in Hardin, MT. In the business arena she was active in North American Theater organization, and Chamber of Commerce. She added a video store and ice cream shop to the theater until she sold the business to her son Greg and his wife Kerri in 2003.
Throughout her life Dione had an avid interest in genealogy and wrote several family genealogy books. Dione was a traveler and made many trips, some for genealogy, later in life with the Global Grannies Club of Billings, and others with family members to Germany, Poland, China, and Japan.
Dione was a member of the Billings Golden K Kiwanis Club and Blue Blazers. She worked at H&R Block and donated tax services to the underprivileged, also helping the homeless apply for social security benefits. Her love for dancing kept her active and happy spending many evenings dancing with friends at the Elks Club of Billings.
In her elderly years Dione lived at Westpark Village and later Aspen View. Dione then moved to Roberts, MT to live with her daughter Holli and son-in-law Frank. Dione had a dry wit and every day made those around her laugh. May 2023, Dione moved to Shipp Assisted living in Absarokee, MT where she resided until her death. Her gentle spirit and beaming smile won the hearts of those around her.
Dione was preceded in death by her parents, sister Glenda Nyman, foster daughter Annie Lopez, and former husband Dr. John H. Smith. Dione is survived by sister Nadine Shirley, children Mark (Chrysa) Smith, Greg (Kerri) Smith, Holli Krizek (Frank Jarvenpaa), grandchildren Dane Smith, Isaac and Rainer (Rebecca) Smith, Jeremy and Cameron Krizek, Kira (Clint) Gramza, Beau (Abby) Mulvaney, Jeniece Holmes, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Memorials can be made to the charity of your choice in Dione's name.
Dione’s memorial service will be held 2:30PM, Thursday March 28th at Unity Church of Billings. Refreshments follow. Her burial will be held at Mountview Cemetery at 1:00PM.
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