Jeanette Boone-Smith was born on Nov. 24, 1934 in Englewood, N.J. She went to be with The Lord on Oct. 23, 2012, in her home, surrounded by family and friends after an extended illness.
The fourth of five children born to Livingston Boone, Sr. and Beatrice Scott Boone, Jeanette graduated from Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, N.J. in 1952 and later attended Bergen Community College.
Jeanette’s natural affinity for public service and political activism began right after high school when, upon becoming president of Englewood’s Fourth Ward Democratic Club, she became involved in fighting housing discrimination and school integration in Englewood, N.J.
In 1982, she married her husband of 30 years, Perry Smith, and moved to Boston. Soon afterwards, she began serving as the executive assistant to then Lt. Governor John F. Kerry. Upon John Kerry’s election to the U.S. Senate in 1985, she continued as a member of his staff as the senior issues and policy specialist for Housing, Human Service and Education as well as liaison to the black community, until she retired in 2000 as his longest-serving staff member. Senator Kerry offered a special tribute in the Congressional record in recognition of her retirement and service to the U.S. Senate. In the words of Senator Kerry, “Jeanette embodies the fight for equality and for social justice that defines the entire second half of this century. Her life is filled with stories of personal struggle, public struggle, and of triumph, of sacrifice and of victory.”
She was the founder of the Four Corners Development Corporation and served as President since its inception in 1987. The Four Corners Development Corporation is the sponsor and developer of the Langham Court Apartments, an 84-unit mixed income development in the South End of Boston, which won the Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1992. Jeanette served as Chairperson of the ABCD South End Neighborhood Action Programs Advisory Committee, Chairperson of the ABCD Board of Directors and Chairperson of the City of Boston Ward 9 Democratic Committee.
She invested in those who in many circumstances were abandoned by society, like ex-offenders, former gang members and those struggling with addiction and substance abuse. She was the original coordinator of Operation Homefront and for the past 17 years organized its weekly home visitation program for at-risk youth in the Boston Public Schools. She was also a trainer for the National TenPoint Leadership Foundation promoting clergy-law enforcement collaboration, on the board of the Boston TenPoint Coalition and former Acting Executive Director of The Ella J. Baker House. In 2008, she founded the Four Corners Institute for Mediation, Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation Training. In honor of her grandson, it was renamed the Justin Albert Institute for Mediation, Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation Training.
An avid singer, she was a member of a number of community and church choirs, including the Boston Community Choir, the Millennium Choir and the Boston Symphony’s Gospel Choir.
She was an ordained elder and deacon of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church, a longstanding church secretary, served as chair of the Trustee Board and served as a Sunday school teacher for more than 20 years. She would drop anything to help a child in any way she could.
In 2008, upon receiving a Boston Neighborhood Fellows Award (awarded to the “unsung” heroes and heroines within the Boston community), Jeanette stated, “I do what I do because it is embedded in me and is the essence of my spirit. I firmly believe that if I can help somebody, my living will not be in vain.”
Jeanette leaves to cherish her memory her loving husband, Perry Smith Sr.; two grandsons, Jairus and Joshua Albert; her step-sons, Craig Smith and Perry Smith, Jr.; three brothers, Livingston, Jr., Nathaniel and David Boone; her adopted children: Bradley Turner, Ivy Jones-Turner, Jacquelyn Lewis-Clark and Jetro da Silva and countless numbers of nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends. She was pre-deceased by her sister, Sylvia Boone Truesdale, her son, Tracey Albert, and her grandson, Justin Albert.