1945 - 2019
Gloria Luretha Birch, age 73, passed away on May 15, 2019. She was born in Jasper, TX on November 2, 1945 to William Guy Smith and Dollie Adams Smith.
A loving and brave soul, Gloria fought until the end of her life; with a deep, mysterious strength that emanated from her full heart, she defended the things and people that she loved. Gloria was tough, sometimes rough and plain spoken, especially when it came to protecting her children and friends, but her toughness and strength harmonized with her unrestricted, unconditional love for others, matchlessly woven together as she lived life fully. She was a proud mother and loved her children very much: working hard for them; in their youth, making clothes for them that were crafted so well that they looked store bought; trying to set them on the right path in life; and, whether they were right or wrong, defending them. Gloria’s huge personality, loud, boisterous and spirited, always left an impression on others. Though life required of her an unbending determination, her heart was compassionately accommodating to the needs of the individual; she was rowdy with the rowdy ones and soft spoken with the soft-spoken ones. For Gloria, it was important to know people intimately and personally, and she took time for that, developing a unique relationship with everyone in her life. This was never truer than when she became a proud “Gran”, and with each of her grandchildren, she had her own special connection and relationship, exclusive to each one of them. Her best friend and confidant, LaDonna, who would later become her daughter-in-law, accompanied her through life, and they protected each other at all costs and fought to make each other better, especially the last few years of her life. Each of their personalities complementing and balancing the other, LaDonna was the only female that Gloria ever knew that was not afraid of her. She took numerous children in over the years, and “Big Momma Cool” treated them as her own, reminding others “that’s my baby”. Very much a perfectionist, this served her well in her long-time career as a seamstress. Gloria had a passion for music, singing and playing guitar; from Country & Western to Rock N’ Roll and Gospel, she enjoyed all kinds of music, even writing her well-known ballad “Bathtub of Love”. She may not have done everything right in life, but towards the end, she worked hard and got it right; Gloria’s story, like so many in our mortal journey, is the perfect story of redemption. Even as sickness tried to take her, Gloria tried her best to defend the hearts and feelings of those she loved; knowing that her passing would cause great sadness, she came back from the brink of death three times to selflessly tell each of them that she loved them so much. Though she is gone, her big personality leaves an immeasurably big impact on, and unforgettable memories with, all that met her. Gloria passed away and opened her eyes to her final redemption, healed and proudly remarking as she often would “well, that beats all I ever stepped in”.
Left to honor her memory are her sons, Bill Ainsworth and wife, LaDonna, of Silsbee, TX, Kenneth Ainsworth of Vidor, TX, James “Jimmy” Ainsworth and wife, Samantha, of Austin, TX and Timothy Birch of Beaumont, TX; daughter, Terri Spurlock and husband, Elton, of Richmond, TX; brothers, Pastor Preston Smith and wife, Charlene, of Montrose, IA and Vernon Doil Smith of Vidor, TX; sister, Devonna Williams of Vidor, TX; brother-in-law, Preston “PeeWee” Smith Jr. of Dequincy, LA; 1st husband and lifelong friend, Gene Ainsworth of Vidor, TX; 13 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Gloria is preceded in death by her husband and love of her life, John Wesley Birch; her parents; and sister, Vivian Smith.
Gloria’s life honoring memorial service will be at 4:00 p.m., Sunday, May 19, 2019 at Lumberton Family Funeral Home, 766 S. Main St., Lumberton, TX, with Pastor Brent Smith and Pastor Preston Smith officiating.