Surviving Two Pandemics and Still Going Strong

One of Palm Beach’s most sporting and loveliest dames is Jane Will Teagle Boggs Smith—a genuine beacon of charm and well-earned wisdom. Not surprisingly for this indomitable whippet of a woman, Jane has survived not one, but TWO pandemics, having been born in 1918 as the Spanish influenza was taking a deadly hold on the world stage. Tragically, her mother Catherine Will had contracted influenza and died at the tender age of 25, less than six months after Jane’s birth. Although symptomatic as a toddler, she and her sister Katherine survived the 1918 pandemic. Moreover, Jane has lived robustly for the 102 years since then. Said Smith: “In those days there was nothing to give you. My grandmother worried that they were burying people alive, just to get them out of the hospitals. I was lucky to survive it and I’ve had a strong immune system ever since.” She’s also been blessed with stamina and will power that’s uncommon in most 30-year-olds.

A much beloved and celebrated raconteur who has outlived world wars, depressions, charging elephants (when on safari), and lesser plagues—not to mention three upstanding husbands—our intrepid Jane does not take the current global health crisis lightly. And she convincingly encourages others to get vaccinated, commenting: “Just go for it, and don’t be stupid. I wish they’d had a vaccine in 1918; it might have saved my own Mother.” Indeed, “go-for-it” has been Jane’s inspiring credo, trumping the hurdles and speed bumps on her extraordinary life’s journey.