Louisiana Lady

In Clinton Downing, Louisiana Ladies, Misty Swilley by Lola Magazine

Jane Smith Green personifies the joys of being a modern-day grandmother.

If Green Acres was the place to be, you might find such a parallel world in the community of Antioch on the outskirts of Farmerville in Union Parish. Jayne Smith Green is one of those unique souls who will inhabit your heart at your first encounter.

Jayne and I first met almost twenty years ago while planning her daughter’s elegant New Orleans wedding. She is one who pays great attention to detail. There is not a label that can define this lady. Mother, grandmother, sister, advocate, friend, businesswoman, dog lover, community activist, political enthusiast and devoted wife are just some of the many characteristics that make her a LOLA Lady.

Jayne is the youngest of five siblings born to the union of James “Big Jim” Payton and Foye Smith. She is mother to Janelle Burford Snelling and Chad Burford. Her motherly role also spans to their spouses, George Snellings III and Morgan Duschesne Burford respectively. These unions have brought her six of the greatest joys to her life. She has four granddaughters, Sally Jayne Snellings, Georgia Snellings, Peyton Burford and Parker Burford. She also has two grandsons, Blayne Burford and Quinn Snellings. Collectively she refers to them as “The Termites” and they call her “Nayne.” “Termites” was a term that Jayne’s father had coined for his thirteen grandchildren at family gatherings. He also referred to them as the dirty dozen.

On any given day, she will trek back and forth from Farmerville to Monroe several times. Whether it is soccer games, ballet practices, art classes, sleep overs or just a dinner date with them, they are a big priority in her life. They keep her young and she keeps their lives interesting.

Jayne came from humble beginnings being the granddaughter of an evangelist, Reverend J “Duff ” Smith, who would later serve in the Louisiana House of Representatives for Union Parish during the administration of Gov. Jimmie Davis. Her father would also serve in the House of Representatives for Union and Morehouse parishes under the administration of Gov. John McKeithen from 1964 to 1972. Thereafter, he would serve as the sergeant-at-arms for the Louisiana Senate from 1972 to 1992.

It is from this upbringing that she began her fascination with politics. From the green pastures to the Governor’s Mansion, Jayne has created a life filled with love, laughter, and happiness. She is a little bit “Town and Country” mixed with “Garden and Gun.” Her unique and diverse personality is cleverly and accurately portrayed in the news feed of her Facebook page. It is quite refreshing to witness her “what you see is what you get” take on life. That attitude combined with intellect has seated her at many a dinner party at the Old State Capitol with the movers and shakers in politics. She has coordinated press tours and book signings for former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, worked alongside Gov. John Bel Edwards and established an amazing friendship with many others in the political realm. She has continued to embrace her political roots and parlay her presence in Baton Rouge and election seasons that would make her father and grandfather proud.

It seems that scheduling a cover shoot is not always favorable with Mother Nature. We met Jayne at Stalin’ B Brangus Farms despite rain in the forecast. Her cover costar for the shoot was Suelynn, a three-year old cow adorned in a wreath of tulips, delphinium and lilies. Even with a downpour of rain in a pasture with an anxious costar, Jayne handled it like a pro. It was a fun morning that would end up resulting in a reshoot on a sunnier day, retiring the cow and taking it in a direction to include all six grandchildren. News of a reshoot didn’t perplex Jayne. Much of this patience and professionalism could be attributed to the numerous TV commercials and ads she and her husband of twenty-five years, Bobby Green, have created for their cellular and securities business. From the most outlandish and eye-catching billboards to the zaniest of commercials, acting is another feather in her cap.

Beyond those shoots she and Bobby along with their four dogs — Loutre II, Loutre III, Loutre IV and Loutre V — create photo magic with their well-thought-out Christmas cards and shoots for many other occasions. These fur babies are just like her children. They are pampered with ham and eggs for breakfast as well as the daily drive thru to Sonic for treats. They are spoiled to say the least.

When I spoke to her daughter Janelle, I asked her what her mom’s greatest qualities were. In two words she replied with, “strength and creativity.” Janelle went on to elaborate that her mom designed and sewed her own wedding dress. As her father walked her down the aisle to give her away, he handed Jayne a one-dollar bill and told her that it was the last dollar that she would receive from him. She was on her own and the buck had stopped there.

Not defeated by this news, it only added fire to her determination to make a great future for herself in this new life. Jayne would go on to study finance at Dale Carnegie and George May University. When it came to entering the workforce, Jayne went against the grain. She entered a male-dominated profession of selling automobiles. Her charismatic upbringing made her a natural working both at Monroe Auto World and Joe Mallard Lincoln Mercury. It is at the later that she would become the finance and insurance manager.

Surviving a divorce and raising two children set its challenges for Jayne, but she was determined to make a better life for herself and them. While on the path to redefining her life and creating a better one, she began to see blessings from God open new doors. Her perseverance kept her on her feet. It was in time that she would attract the charms of Bobby Green, her soulmate. Their journey together would evolve from courtship and into a marriage.

In 1989 and 1990, Jayne and Bobby opened the first cellular telephone store, Central Cellular, that was the test market for cellular communication for Century Telephone, which is now known as CenturyLink. Over the years, she has transformed that business as the director of Central Protection Services, one of the most reputable alarm and security companies in the region.

All work and no play would make for a dull Jayne. She has found a great balance in transforming business trips into family vacations. While work is her hobby as much as it is her career, it is with such passion that none of it seems like work at all.

Following her life journey, one cannot help but notice her Southernisms, some familiar and some her own. “Busier than a woodpecker in a petrified forest,” “I’ve eaten like a gar,” “If you are the smartest in your group, you need a new group” and “Some days you are a cow, the other days you are a steak.”

Just as she is in person, so is her genuinely kind heart, honest soul, and sense of humor in each of her posts. To know her is to adore her and for those who don’t, she will have them intrigued and begging for more. Each journal entry in social media land will brighten your day and inspire you in the worst of days. It will also make you wonder where she gets her vivacious energy and vitality for life.

When I asked about the daily detailed post of her life, she informed me that it was a living journal for her children and grandchildren. She wanted these posts to be a legacy of her life that will last beyond just their memories of her when she goes to be with God.

One of my most favorite posts was of her thank you to those acknowledging her most recent birthday. The entry dated December 5, 2017 read:

“I am blessed so many gave 2 to 5 minutes of your time for my birthday yesterday. I have been overwhelmed by your sentiments and bylines. As I read each post, a memory of our relationship flashed before me. Prone since childhood to take the road less traveled, I met many of you traveling that very same road. Thank you for caring for me, with knowledge all of us have imperfections. Your posts were so kindly over the top. I invite you to speak at my funeral. Don’t you know my haters forced to be in attendance, would be elbowing and whispering in the pews, ‘she wasn’t that great.’ As a birthday cake is incomplete without a candle, a gift incomplete without a ribbon, I’m incomplete without family and friends like you. A Methodist church minister of our church pointed out into the congregation one Sunday, when you look at a person with special needs, our eyes look differently at them. He added, the person with special needs looks back at us with their eyes, thinks we are different, too. Always know, when looking at someone else’s faults, they are equally summing up your faults, too.”

“There will be no segregation in heaven as there is on Earth. We tend to congregate in groups of the same belief system, religion, race, political and social status. God is the only true judge of people. I pray this year, I am a better mother, grandmother, wife, sister, and friend. With good people like you in my life, I think I will succeed. A poor mouth equals a poor life.”

To know Jayne is to love her. To call her a friend is a blessing.