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Education icon who fled Hitler will sign memoir July 12

Authors Inge Meyring Smith (left) and Pam Horne will be present for a book signing for, “Born For America: The Life of Inge Meyring Smith” at Franklin Synergy Bank Friday, July 12.

 Local icon in education and survivor of Hitler rule, Inge Smith will sign her book – Born for America: The Life of Inge Meyring Smith by Inge Meyring Smith written with co-author Pam Horne – Friday, July 12 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Franklin Synergy Bank, 722 Columbia Avenue.

Born Jewish in Germany, Smith arrived in New York City in 1938 when she was a child after narrowly escaping the rise of the Nazi regime. Appropriately, Smith was born on the Fourth of July, which serves as inspiration for the title of the book. After struggling to make it to America, a German immigration officer stamped her papers and said, “You were born for America” – hence her story of freedom begins.

After settling in Franklin, Tenn., in the 1950s, Smith went on to make a profound mark in the history of education by becoming instrumental in starting the U.S. government education program, Head Start for low-income families.

A beloved figure in Franklin, she has also impacted many families by founding Smith Preschool where children have been lovingly educated for more than 60 years in a homey and progressive school adjacent to Smith’s home with a playground in her backyard.

Smith’s spirit for life, love of children and innate ability to spread love and positivity to those around her inspired writer of 20 years and author, Pam Horne, to share Smith’s story with the world.

“I think that so far the book has been well received because it’s a compelling story that appeals to so many different audiences with different interests in Europe and America,” Horne said.

The book depicts Smith’s strong spirit layered in experiences of adventure, turmoil, love and uncanny surprises and serendipitous “coincidences” that contribute to the intricate, fabric of her life including the beginning of Hitler’s rule to her arrival in New York City in the 1940s and her experiences living in the south in the 1960s and beyond.

After sending her children to Smith Preschool, Horne became friends with the other moms at the preschool as well as Smith. However, it was a while before Horne learned of Smith’s rich background and life experiences. Knowing Horne’s background in writing, a friend said, “You need to write this.” Following suit, Horne spent almost 10 years studying Smith’s life and conducting hundreds of interviews with her for the book.

“Because of working with her, I look at life differently now,” Horne said of Smith. “She radiates optimism and has a good morning approach to the world that’s unflappable. That’s why people like to be around her.”

“I’ve learned so much from her about being a wife, mother, friend and professional – that was the greatest joy of working with her.”

Horne, a Kentucky native, grew up in Williamson County and has been writing the stories of local people for more than 20 years. She has also worked at Providence House Publishers and served as communications director for Williamson Medical Center. Horne lives in Franklin with her husband and two children.

With the book being released during the same time as a documentary about her life, “One of the Miracles: The Inge Meyring Smith Story” created by Clay Stafford, which premiered to sold out audiences at Franklin Theatre in April, Smith is awed by the attention.

Previously Smith said to the Herald, “I can’t believe it. ”

Life’s been so good to me. This community has nurtured me and loved me and have done everything to make me believe that I belong here,” she said.

“If God had a purpose in bringing Inge into our lives, it is to help us learn about different cultures and different people,” Horne said.

“She values her life here and wanted to give everything back because so much had been taken from her at such a young age.”

Smith said she plans to celebrate her 90th birthday July 4th with her family, which includes three children, seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Smith and Horne will sign copies of Born for America: The Life of Inge Meyring Smith at Franklin Synergy Bank, 722 Columbia Avenue July 12 from 1 to 4 p.m. The book is also available at 

Posted on: 7/3/2013


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