Family pay tribute to former town teacher who met the President of the United States

Eva Smith
Eva Smith

Tributes have been paid to a Boston teacher, who met a US president, rebelled against segregation and helped the wartime efforts by working on one of the first radar stations in the UK.

The funeral of 93-year-old Eva Smith (Eve), of Wrangle, took place at Boston Crematorium on Wednesday.

Mrs Smith was born in Old Leake, educated at the village primary school before gaining a scholarship to join Boston High School.

Mrs Smith is survived by husband Jim, another well-known teacher in Boston who went on to become deputy head master of St Thomas, who she married in Sibsey in 1956. They celebrated 60 years together earlier this year.

Son, Richard, a comedy writer, said his mother was ‘supportive’ and ‘affectionate’ and put his career direction down to her humour.

“People remember her as a positive person,” he said.

“She was always able to use humour to take the heat out of a situation.”

Mrs Smith was galvanised to join the RAF after surviving an air raid bombing during the war.

Joining RAF Gatesby, she was picked out by her superiors for her intellect and sent for radar training and ended up at one of the first radar stations, where one of her duties involved climbing 360ft radio masts – 100 ft higher than Boston Stump.

She later became a teacher and in 1955, she was selected as the only teacher nationally to go to teach in America that year as part of a international exchange and caused such a stir that she made the news there and got to meet then-president Harry Truman.

She would later return to the USA to teach on the East Coast for another year.

While in America, Mrs Smith rebelled against segregation while visiting the deep south – on several occassions taking a seat at the back of a bus which was only used by black people at that time.

In Boston, Mrs Smith lived in Thorold Street for a time.

She worked in schools including Staniland, Hawthorn Tree, Benington and St Thomas – also completing stints in Skegness and London.

Later in life, she became a ‘comper’, taking part and winning a number of competitions including trips to Chicago, goldpanning in California, a trip to Paris and a ride on the Oriental Express from London Victoria to Venice.