Cover photo for Jean Smoak Schell's Obituary
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Jean Smoak Schell

June 7, 1933 — October 28, 2022

Holly Hill, South Carolina

Jean Smoak Schell

Mrs. Jean Smoak Schell, 89, of Holly Hill, widow of Dr. William R. ‘Bill’ Schell, lovingly known as ‘Ms. Noah’ by many and ‘My Jeanie’ by a lucky few, died Friday, October 28, 2022 at Trident Medical Center, surrounded by family. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, November 5th at First Baptist Church of Holly Hill with Pastor Shaun Daley officiating and Speaker Garland Crump. A brief meet and greet with friends will take place at the church social hall following the service. A private burial will follow at the Holly Hill Cemetery. 


Jean was born on June 7, 1933 in Cumberland, Maryland, and was encouraged in her creativity from an early age by her parents, the late Russell E. Smoak and Carrine Jeffers Smoak. She was a graduate of Limestone College and the University of Alabama, where she received her Master’s Degree in Clothing, Textile, and Design. Jean was a longtime educator who encouraged and inspired a generation of high school and college students. As her teaching career came to a close, she found new purpose in the creation of plush toys that were lovingly handcrafted for those who appreciated “what is magic and soft and warm and special”. Jean said that she wrote the story of her life through those toys. 

Jean was an active and devout member of the First Baptist Church of Holly Hill where she taught Sunday School for decades.

She joked that it took her three times to get it right, but Jean married the love of her life, Bill Schell, on Valentine’s Day in 1982. They shared nearly three decades of wonderful memories together.

Jean was famous for her delicious caramel cakes, her bright red glasses and purple caftan, and for adding a dash of magic to the lives of everyone she met.

She always seemed to carry her joy with her, and she spread that joy to others with endless love, thoughtfulness, and generosity. Jean taught us the power of hope, and reminded us to celebrate the moment. A life well lived.


She is preceded in death by her husband, Bill, and her sister, Sara Smoak Heath of Greenville, SC. Surviving are her children, Russell (Elizabeth) Lewis, Caroline (Jacob) Shuler, and Ben (Kathy) Lewis of Holly Hill; stepchildren Connie Schell, Leeanne Pearson, Bill Schell, and Christopher Schell of San Diego, California; a sister, Millie Smoak Wilson of Greenville, SC; a sister-in-law, Kay Outka of Ames, Iowa; eleven much-adored grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and many, well-loved nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends on Friday, November 4th from 5 to 7 p.m. at Avinger Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, PO Box 235, Holly Hill, SC 29059 or to The Alzheimer’s Association.  


Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Avinger Funeral Home, 2274 Eutaw Rd, Holly Hill, SC 29059, 803-496-3434.


“If you have lightened the burdens around you, then you have lived a useful life.” 


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jean Smoak Schell, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Friday, November 4, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, November 5, 2022

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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