Louise Tennent Smith, the Ledger-Enquirer's food editor from 1985-1993, died Tuesday morning in her sleep.
She was 84.
Her son, Burford Smith, said she reportedly told friends "that she was ready to go and hoped she would die in her sleep."
He said as far he knew, she had dinner with a friend Monday night, went to bed and didn't wake up. She was not ill and had planned a trip to Florida this weekend.
Louise Smith was a longtime resident of the Columbus Historic District. Her good friend and neighbor, Joe Price, remembers her fondly.
"She was the most giving person in the district," he said.
If she heard that anyone needed help, she would be the first one to help out, Price said: "She was very generous and will be missed."
In 1992, Jake Vest, an educator in the Orlando, Fla., area, was a newspaper columnist and cartoonist. His syndicated cartoon, That's Jake, was compiled in a book and he came to Columbus to meet readers and sign books. Vest began his career at the Ledger-Enquirer as a copy editor.
After the book signing, he went to Smith's house for dinner.
While there, she served her by-then infamous cold beet soup.
Vest remembered telling a story about going to Oklahoma for a book signing. The area had been hard hit by a tornado. He said he was served a dinner under a tent and even with all the devastation, he had hot soup.
Smith howled with laughter and retold that story for years.
In fact, another neighbor, artist Garry Pound, said she was such a great storyteller, that even after hearing the same stories for years, it didn't matter because she told them so well.
"She coined the District motto," Pound said. "It is, 'We don't care what you do here in the District as long as we know everything about it.'"
He said she played bridge all the time and was "as sharp as a tack."
Pound called her "the aristocrat of Broadway. The neighborhood won't be the same without her."
Even though she moved from the Historic District to Spring Harbor in the spring, Pound said "we always thought she'd be back."
Louise Tennent Smith was born Nov. 4, 1928, in Atlanta, the daughter of Louise Byrd Cooper Tennent and Thomas Hill Tennent Sr.
She graduated from Duke University and was a Realtor in Miami before moving to Columbus.
Survivors include her son, Buford; sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and George Bogle of Phoenix; a brother, Thomas Hill Tennent Jr. of Columbus; a niece; and three nephews.
Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the John B. Amos Cancer Center or Westville.