Smith, age 54, was a positive force of energy in the Sarasota community and made an impact during the early years of Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri's tenure at the Sarasota Ballet.
Jeanne Bates Smith, the managing director of the Sarasota Ballet from 2008 to 2009, died on September 25 at home after a six-year-long diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
Smith, age 54, was from Edina, Minnesota. Smith has lived in Sarasota for since 2000 and moved back to Minnesota in 2013.
A graduate of Iona College and the Thunderbird School of Global Management, she worked in New York City as the director of new business development for the design firm Edwin Schlossberg Inc.
While living in Sarasota, Smith was active with her time in the community serving as a board chair of the Forty Carrots Family Center and later as the managing director of the Sarasota Ballet during the first few years of leadership under director Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri.
"She came onboard after my first year," says Webb, director of the Sarasota Ballet. "Jeanne was the most amazing lady. She had such a wonderful heart and had a bubbling personality. She was so caring. She had very special qualities. We were quite devastated when twe heard the news."
Webb says that he and his wife Margaret Barbieri, assistant director of the ballet, got to know Smith and her extended family very well during her brief time at the Sarasota Ballet. It was only Webb's second year in Sarasota and he says Smith provided him and the entire company with boosted spirits and morale fueled by her infectious spirit and determination.
"At that time the company had real difficulties but yet Jeanne had this amazing posititive energy," says Webb. "I would go, 'Oh my God what are we going to do?,' but she would say that everything was going to be fine. She had something very special about her." Webb added that when he told the rest of the company of dancers, they let out a guttural gasp and sigh, and that even though she hadn't worked at the ballet for five years, everyone still remembered her. Webb also said that the company will dedicate a portion of its upcoming performance "The Best of Theatre of Dreams" on October 23 to 25, which will showcase the choreography of ballet members past and present, to Smith.
She is survived by her husband of 18 years, author, playwright and investment banker David Franklin Smith, whom she met in 1995 in New York City and married in 1997. She is also survived by five children: Lauren O’Neill Smith, David Ahearn Smith, Harper Alice Smith, Sebastian M. Smith and Eda Clare Smith. Smith is also survived by father John Bates, brothers Andrew Bates of Sarasota and John Bates, Jr., and sister Kathleen DeMaria.
Friends and family are invited to a celebration of life to be held at the Longboat Key Club on Sunday, November 22 from 4 to 6 p.m.