Dr. Sue Mary Shaw-Smith

May 12, 1948 ~ June 21, 2022 (age 74)

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Beloved teacher and administrator, Dr. Sue Shaw-Smith died peacefully at NMMC in Tupelo, Mississippi. She was 74 years old.  Born in Grenada, Mississippi, to the late Alfred Isom Shaw and Nell McCalman Shaw, she grew up in Coffeeville and graduated from Coffeeville High School in 1966.  A woman with an insatiable appetite for learning, Sue received her BA in English from Mississippi State College for Women.  She earned a M.Ed. all while actively teaching at Lafayette County High School in Oxford. She moved to Southaven to teach high school English and served as the faculty student council sponsor. She completed her education with a doctorate in educational administration and educational psychology from Ole Miss in 1981. She later taught and became Principal at New Caney High School in Kingwood, Texas, before moving to Tupelo in 1989.  She spent the next fifteen years employed by the Tupelo Public School District as an assistant principal and interim principal at Tupelo High, principal at Tupelo Middle School, and principal at the Fillmore Center.  Her last assignment was in the Central Office where she was Director of Curriculum. She endeared herself to thousands of students over the years who looked up to her, respected her, and became “her children”.  A lady of many talents, Dr. Shaw-Smith loved theatre and Broadway, playing the piano, and was a trained singer who toured the world singing and sharing her talents with various traveling choirs. She was a lover of anything Ole Miss and during her graduate career served as the inaugural dorm mother for the first co-ed dorm in the southeastern United States. Her appetite for knowledge always had her nose in books. She read all different types of literature, but her favorite was William Faulkner whom she considered a literary hero.  She was also a member of the First United Methodist Church in Tupelo.  Dr. Sue Shaw-Smith cut a wide path of service to others through her distinguished education career, as well as through her involvements in the communities where she lived.  Her life was not in vain.

A service celebrating her life will be held at 2 PM Friday, June 24, 2022, from the Sadie Holland Memorial Chapel at Holland Funeral Directors-Tupelo with Rev. Prentiss “Bud” Gordon, Jr. officiating. Private burial will follow in her family’s ancestral cemetery, Elam Cemetery, near Coffeeville.  Visitation will be from Noon-service time on Friday only at the funeral home. For those unable to attend, the service may be viewed at www.hollandfuneraldirectors.com/Livestreaming and will be permanently archived thereafter.

Dr. Shaw-Smith is survived by her only daughter, Heidi Smith Fortenberry, and husband, Alan, of Bowling Green, KY; a niece Angela Tenpenny (Michael) of Knoxville, TN; her grand dogs, Lola and Rocky; and hundreds of non-birth children who loved their teacher.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Alfred and Nell, and her brothers, Alfred Irving Shaw and Hubert “Huey” Isom Shaw.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Dr. Sue

We are deeply sorry for your loss – the staff at Tupelo Chapel

Join in honoring their life – plant a memorial tree


June 24, 2022

12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Holland Funeral Directors
5281 Cliff Gookin Blvd.
Tupelo, MS 38801

Funeral Service

June 24, 2022

2:00 PM
Sadie Holland Chapel, Tupelo

2 thoughts on “Dr. Sue Mary Shaw-Smith”

  1. Heidi, I was so very sorry to learn of your mother’s passing. She was such a strong, brave lady and also compassionate and loving. She loved her students, and they respected her. I consider it a privilege to have known her. I will be thinking of you and praying for comfort for you in the days ahead. You were the light of her life. Love, Helen Hancock

  2. Dr. Shaw-Smith, was such a great teacher and person. I had her during her time at Lafayette High School. She lived across the street from Coffeeville High School, she would always invite the girls basketball team over to her house, when we played Coffeeville, back in the day. She and her mother always so kind. Her brother was a senior at the same time as I was, he was such a sweet guy and what a athletic. I know they are having a great day in Heaven. God bless.


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