LaRita Smith (Mixon)
LaRita Smith (Mixon)
LaRita Smith (Mixon)
LaRita Smith (Mixon)
LaRita Smith (Mixon)
LaRita Smith (Mixon)

Obituary of LaRita Mary Smith (Mixon)

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LaRita Mary Smith (Mixon) February 29, 1924 - June 20, 2024 LaRita Smith was born in Piney Woods, MS to Laura Lee Ross Smith and William Clifton Smith, schoolteachers who instilled the importance of education in their children. She was born at the home of her grandparents, Mary Ellen Hartzog Ross and Hugh Ross. LaRita celebrated her 25th birthday (100th year) on Leap Day this year. She was the eldest of 9 children who have maintained close family bonds throughout their lives over time and distance. In the 1940’s after graduating from Central High School in Jackson, LaRita’s career took her from long-distance operator at the telephone company to the Pentagon, to photojournalist at the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate and Winn Parish Enterprise (Louisiana) among other newspapers. In the early 1950s she married and started a family with J.C. Mixon of Winnfield, LA, a marriage that lasted 20 years. They started their family in east Texas, and in 1957 she and her two children joined her husband in Amuay Bay, Venezuela. While her family grew there to 3 children, she sustained her artist-journalist momentum sketching and painting coastal and desert villages, people and landscapes, while also serving as the editor of the refinery weekly newspaper. She returned to the US in 1962 with her family and settled in New Orleans for the next 25 years. LaRita attended Mississippi College and later obtained degrees in Journalism with a minor in English (LSU A&M, Baton Rouge, 1949); Economics (UNO, 1974), and Fine Arts (UNO, 1975). In artist workshops she studied under, and collaborated with, Ida Kohlmeyer, Ella Mae Mason, Dick Phillips, and other notable artists. In New Orleans, alone, she had art showings at the Contemporary Arts Center, the Orleans Gallery, New Orleans public and university libraries, plus other galleries around town. She kept a studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans, and for a period joined the street artists around Jackson Square painting portraits and caricatures for tourists. She later opened her own gallery in Madison, MS, after moving back from New Orleans to help care for her aging parents. She continued to create watercolor portraits and landscapes, sculpture, and produced films for public television. In 2011 in Jackson, she filled the Center for Art on Lamar Street with her 87-Year Retrospective Exhibit. Her home on Old Canton Road, “Atelier LaRita", was an art studio and gallery where she welcomed all passersby, siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews, friends, and collectors of her art for many years. Her back yard was a sculpture garden made from found and recycled objects. She lived, worked, and traveled much of the United States and five of the seven continents. As an artist she captured the world in her own remarkable and evolving style that included paintings, collages, sculptures, photographs, installations, film, writings and audiovisual productions that inform, entertain, challenge, thrill and instruct. Her focus has always been on producing art rather than marketing it. Shortly after turning 95 in 2019, she joined her daughter, Martha, in Maine. She spent her last years at Sedgewood Commons nursing home, including over a year of isolation due to Covid-19. The family is forever grateful to LaRita’s caregivers at Sedgewood Commons nursing home who endured the hardships of Covid, staffing shortages, and the usual blizzards and ice storms, to provide superb and loving care. LaRita is survived by her children, Richard (Donna), Martha, and Claude (Judy); by five grandchildren, Karin Roland (Lori Brown), Elin Letourneau (Zebediah), Nelson Mixon (Jovanna), Clifton Mixon, and Steven Mixon; by 6 of her 8 brothers and sisters, Daphna Shaw of South Lyon, Michigan; Jacqueline Pierce of Ridgeland MS; Sarah Sheffield of Sparks, MD; Laura Leavitt of Ridgeland, MS; Perrin Smith (Bertha Jane) of Columbus, MS; and Russell Smith (Martha Ann) of Madison, MS; and by many loving nieces and nephews, and other extended family members. LaRita was predeceased by her parents, Laura Lee Ross Smith and William Clifton Smith, and her brothers William Clifton Smith II, and George Virgil Smith. LaRita made many dear friends in her travels and kept in touch with many of them. After her return to Jackson in the 1980’s, she became part of the art community there, and developed many close friends and admirers. A memorial service will be held at the Natchez Trace Funeral Home, 759 Highway 51 • Madison, MS on August 10, 2024. Visitation will be from 10:00am to 12:00pm with a chapel service at 12:00pm. Interment to follow in Natchez Trace Memorial Park. Please consider making a donation in LaRita’s memory to the Mississippi Museum of Art. Mississippi Museum of Art
Saturday
10
August

Visitation

10:00 am - 12:00 am
Saturday, August 10, 2024
Natchez Trace Funeral Home
759 Hwy 51
Madison, Mississippi, United States
601-898-8565
Saturday
10
August

Memorial Service

12:00 pm
Saturday, August 10, 2024
Natchez Trace Funeral Home Chapel
759 Hwy 51
Madison, Mississippi, United States
601-898-8565
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LaRita Smith (Mixon)

In Loving Memory

LaRita Smith (Mixon)

1924 - 2024

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