Janelle Smith Bunn, age 82, died on May 21, 2021 at her home in Lexington, NC surrounded by loved ones after a courageous battle with colon cancer. She was known as a woman of deep faith and a devoted, sweet-natured mother, sister, and friend to all.
Janelle was born in Lexington, NC on December 15, 1938 to Gerald F. Smith and Mildred Lomax Smith. As the oldest of four children, she and her siblings worked with her parents in their family grocery store, Smith Food Center, in Lexington for many years. She had many happy memories of playing with cousins and school friends from Cecil School, Lexingon Junior High, and Lexington Senior High School (class of ‘57), especially Sunday country drives to visit family and rides up to Cumberland Knob for picnics. She got her first taste of rock ‘n’ roll when a young man named, Elvis Presley, put on a show at the Carolina Theater in 1956. She studied English and graduated in 1961 from Wake Forest University where she and her friends were at the center of the red letter “D” days of student chapel walk outs and bunny hops on the quad in response to the Baptist Convention’s ban on dancing. She married Jackson Howard Bunn, Jr. at First Baptist Church in Lexington, NC in September of 1960. They started their family and over the years made their home in Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Alexandria, and eventually put down roots outside of Chicago. Janelle was highly active in Union Church of Hinsdale, IL while her three children were growing up.
She made her way back to North Carolina in 1992 to work as the Guest Services Coordinator at Blowing Rock Assembly Grounds in Blowing Rock, NC. In 2001, she transitioned to live and work in Burlington, NC where she served as the executive administrative assistant to the conference minister for the United Church of Christ Southern Conference office until 2018. In January, 2009 Janelle moved back to Lexington where she had always dreamed of retiring. She was an active member of First Reformed United Church of Christ including her completion of studies as a member of the first class of commissioned Stephen Ministers at FRUCC. She was a fun and beloved grandma to her eleven grandchildren. She made many wonderful trips to see them in Austin, Chicago, and Miami, but also enjoyed giving them a warm North Carolina welcome complete with creek jumping and Southern cooking. In her later years, she especially enjoyed the companionship of her brother, Gerald, good times sharing meals and movie outings often with friends, holidays in Burlington with their dear sister, Sandy, and road trips to the coast with her puppy, Dolly. She was an exceptionally kind spirit who daily lived out her Christian values of love, compassion, and respect for others.
She is survived by brother Gerald L. Smith of Lexington, NC; sister Sandra Smith Scott and brother-in-law, Dr. Charles K. Scott of Burlington, NC and family; son Jackson Howard Bunn, III (Ana Maria) of Miami, FL; daughter, Laura Elizabeth Olson (Robert) of Austin, TX; and son Brian Bunn (Janelle) of Indian Head Park, IL; grandchildren: Zac Carmignani-Bunn, Jordan Carmignani-Bunn, Dixon Carmigani-Bunn, Josh Bunn, Payton Bunn, Brooklynn Bunn, Emma Olson, Risa Olson, Theo Olson, Levi Olson, Abel Olson, Julia Heilrayne, Arwyn Heilrayne along with her loving extended family of nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was predeceased by her husband of almost 30 years, Jackson Howard Bunn, Jr., her sister, Brenda Smith Lopp; and her sister-in law Margaret Bunn Moss.
Sincere appreciation to Gerald Smith, her devoted brother who watched over her and ensured she had the best care and comfort throughout her illness along with her outstanding caregiving team: Patricia Sheffield, Jennifer Sheffield, Becky Newland, Novant Health Cancer Institute Thomasville, and Hospice of Davidson County
A celebration of her life will be held Saturday, June 26, 2021 at 1:00pm at First Reformed United Church of Christ church at 104 E. Center St, Lexington, NC 27292
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to: First Reformed United Church of Christ of Lexington, 104 East Center Street, Lexington, NC 27292 and Hospice of Davidson County; or the charity of your choice.
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