Cover photo for Ruth Smith Yadley's Obituary
Ruth Smith Yadley Profile Photo

Ruth Smith Yadley

December 3, 1924 — November 2, 2022

Ruth Smith Yadley

    Ruth Lorraine Smith was born in Sibley Hospital in Washington, DC, on December 3, 1924, the daughter of Sophie Porton and Harry K. Smith. The family moved to Tampa when Ruth was an infant, and she spent her first years on Georgia Avenue. She was an active girl, and childhood became more idyllic when the family moved to Lutz. Ruth and her little sister Eleanor swam in Lake Stemper, played in the orange groves, and helped out in the family’s fernery, hand-selecting and packaging ferns for shipping around the country. When the family moved back to Tampa, Ruth attended and graduated from Hillsborough High School, before going on to Rollins College in Winter Park.
    Four years before Ruth was born, Jean Marvin Yadley, the son of family friends was also born in Sibley Hospital in Washington, DC. When Jean was stationed at Drew Field in Tampa during World War II, his parents asked him to pay a visit to the Smiths. Jean dutifully did, and the initial attraction was Sophie’s cooking and Harry’s good humor. Then, he noticed 16 year old Ruth. It was a love that blossomed and eventually lasted nearly 80 years, but, first, Ruth had to finish school. She graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where she majored in Library Science. She never became a librarian. Instead, 10 days after graduation, on June 16, 1946, Ruth and Jean were married. Their wedding was one of the first grand events in the ballroom of the old Tampa Terrace Hotel in downtown Tampa following its reopening after the end of World War II. Jean joined Ruth’s father Harry K. Smith and his new uncle Harry Porton in their wholesale tire, parking and automobile service business across the street from the Tampa Terrace at the corner of Florida Avenue and Lafayette (now Kennedy) Boulevard. When the family sold Smith & Porton in 1966, Jean took Ruth on a three months around-the-world trip. This was the beginning of a lifetime of travel for Jean & Ruth, who had traveled to virtually every corner of the world.
    Ruth was a high-spirited, lively and beautiful young lady who enjoyed art, music, swimming, her friends; and later, travel, food and wine. Ruth was a devoted wife and the center of her family, nurturing and supporting her two children, Greg and Janet, in their activities: Cub Scout Den Mother, chauffer to ballet and accordion lessons, PTA member and volunteer, and member of The Berkeley Blazers. Ruth cared greatly for Tampa General Hospital, where she was a longtime “Pink Lady” member of the TGH Auxiliary, a founding member of the Henry B. Plant Museum Society, and a founding member of Mary Lee’s House. Ruth was Jean’s “Rotary Ann” during his 65 years of service to the Downtown Tampa Rotary Club. Ruth became a Dame of the Chaine des Rotisseurs, inducted alongside Jean, who founded the Florida West Coast Chapter in 1972.
    Ruth was a wonderful mother, but her highest joy was being “Gan” to her four grandchildren and her nine “greats.” She was everyone’s greatest cheerleader, always patient and interested in her three generations of offspring. All Ruth wanted was for her family to love each other, and she got her wish. Greg and Janet began childhood as best friends and have continued ever since. Lauren and Sloan Yadley and Margo and L.D. Mendez grew up together in Tampa and have remained the closest of cousins; their nine (soon to be 10!) children play together regularly.
Ruth and Jean were the quintessential couple, totally in sync, rarely at odds, and unified in every important way. Jean doted on Ruth and had no purpose greater than giving her the tangible gifts and intangible support and comfort she deserved. Every holiday and weeknight gathering was special because Ruth made it a celebration. Champagne was always within reach, and stories and laughter abounded. 
Jean passed away on February 21, 2022, and Ruth continued to enjoy her family. But a love story as great as her’s required two people. Ruth left to join Jean quietly, at home and at peace, on the afternoon of November 2, 2022. Her life was a blessing and will be a constant reminder to her family and many friends to share their hearts and feelings generously.
Ruth is survived by her children, Greg (Anne), Janet Yadley Mendez (Larry); sister, Eleanor Friedman, four grandchildren, Lauren Yadley Penley (Adam), Sloan (Ashley Davis-Yadley), Margo Mendez Ambler (Jason) and L.D. Mendez (Emily); and nine great-grandchildren, Ryder Penley, Skyler Penley, Roman Yadley, Vincent Yadley, William Yadley, Porter Ambler, Sophie Ambler, Dane Mendez and Cameron Mendez.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, November 13, 2022, at Congregation Schaarai Zedek, 3303 West Swann Avenue, Tampa, at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ruth’s memory to Congregation Schaarai Zedek, the Henry B. Plant Museum, or AccentCare Hospice Foundation. 

Past Services

Funeral Service

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Congregation Schaarai Zedek

3303 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33609

Get Directions

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 670

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send a Card

Send a Card