Tanya Elizabeth Kendrick was born August 10, 1957, ( the only girl and the third of four children ), to Margaret Alice Kendrick and Durell “Dude” Mangum Kendrick. Through her childhood years she enjoyed riding her horse, Nelly; and hunting deer, rabbit, coon and varmints with her father. She canoed during floods with her brothers and learned how to sew and cook from her mother. She was a 1975 graduate of Stroman High School where she was a basketball player, as well as a cheerleader. Her high school classmates grew into lifelong friends and she enjoyed telling her children about the many adventures they had together.
She met Gary Wayne Smejkal on a blind date her freshman year of high school in 1971. They were married on January 10, 1976 and celebrated their 47th anniversary together this past year. They started their new life together in Victoria and welcomed their first son Scott Allan Smejkal later that year. In 1978 they built a home on the Smejkal Family Homestead. This family home was the focal point of many moments through the years and continued to provide an amazing foundation for their growing family. In 1980 they welcomed their middle child Bradley Dwayne Smejkal into their life. Having two healthy boys was a blessing however both Tanya and Gary always wanted a daughter and in April of 1982 their daughter Amy Elizabeth Smejkal (Holly) was born.
Tanya was involved with various organizations as her children grew up. She was a Guadalupe Elementary School PTO member taking on the annual Halloween carnival where no one came close to the costumes she would sew. There was also a “minor” cotton candy mishap she always spoke about and was certain (even after all these years) if the light hit the stage curtains just right you could see the glimmer of cotton candy on them. She was a board member for the Stroman High School theater, tennis and cheerleading booster clubs. It is rumored that on school trips she was mistaken for a student and not a chaperone more times than not. As one story goes, she was riding down the hall on the hotel luggage cart, so her petite size wasn’t the only reason the mistake may have been made.
In 1998 Tanya put her organizational skills to work and accepted a two-week, part-time job with Korczynski’s Photography. After five years she decided her two weeks were up, she was going to spend time sewing. Tanya was an amazing seamstress, she spent many hours pushing that sewing machine peddle creating items for her kids, but nothing brought her more joy than sewing for her grandchildren and great grandchild. Her art blossomed into a T-shirt quilting business; “Turn T-Shirts to Treasure” where each quilt was carefully planned for loved ones to treasure. After 33 quilts for the Coastal Conservation Association, 179 memory T-shirt quilts and a countless number of baby blankets; she began making a quilt of her own, however it was never completed. Her last quilt, completed just days before her passing, was made for her great grand-daughter Ava.
Tanya raised her three children to become outstanding adults. Scott and Bradley made their careers in the US Army and Amy a career in dental hygiene. Scott married Sara Elizabeth Burkhart in 1996 and in 1997 Tanya was promoted to “Grammy” with the arrival of her first grandchild, Hannah Elizabeth Smejkal. Scott and Sara blessed Grammy with 3 more grandchildren, Gretchen Faye Smejkal in 2002, Graydon Durell Smejkal in 2004 and Hudson John Smejkal in 2010. Through Scott’s military career, his family has been stationed all over the world, but that didn’t ever stop Tanya from popping in. She once flew to South Carolina to surprise them. Scott picked her up from the airport and she hid in the back of the car until the family got in to go eat. Scott asked where everyone wanted to go and no sooner than they finished answering, Grammy pops up from over the back seat and says “I want Mexican food!” Middle child Bradley married Lauren Nicole Douglas December 31, 2022. Although unable to attend in person, the biggest smile came across Tanya’s face as she added her second daughter-in-law to the mix. In Tanya’s final days, Bradley took on the task of helping get her ice chips. One of the last things she spoke clearly (as she scolded him for not getting them fast enough) was “when I say ice, you gotta give me ice!” It was just her way of reminding everyone that she was the boss and like the sign in her kitchen states “If momma ain’t happy, Ain’t nobody happy”. Tanya would be so proud to know that Bradley and Lauren added one more grandson to the mix ( Brennan Elijah ) on August 1, just 9 days before her own birthday Amy married Jeff Eric Holly in 2005 securing his title of favorite son-in-law. They added Brady Lee Holly in 2006, Brooke Elizabeth Holly in 2007 and Blair Collette Holly in 2008. There wasn’t much on Grammy’s schedule that was a higher priority than her grandkids activities, some of those falling on a day she had a chemo treatment, even with everyone suggesting she go home and rest, she was always there supporting them. In most videos you can hear her cheering with excitement. One thing she was always sure to point out was when Jeff or Amy were “being too hard on my grandbaby!” Tanya is also Grammy to one great-grandchild, Ava Curie Tobar, born 2017 to grand-daughter Hannah. Adding a GREAT grand child to the family was a level of Grammy that no one knew was possible, but just as she did with all the grandkids, Ava was just as spoiled.
While most of Tanya’s spare time was spent correcting the pronunciation of her name – it’s Tan not Ton. She would correct you in a second. “ You go to the beach to get a tan not a ton. If my momma would have wanted mew to be called “Tonya” she would have spelled it that way. “ Tanya still managed to be involved with numerous organizations. She spent 35 years with the Victoria Livestock Show, retiring as a superintendent in 2014. Through this venture she developed a reputation for not being one you could push around. She was the treasurer for the Coastal Conservation Association for 10 years, a member of the Friends of NRA–Victoria Chapter for 5 years, Treasurer for the Ducks Unlimited Victoria Chapter for the past 10 years and on the Executive Board of Trustees for the Victoria Fair Association for the past 10 years. Tanya just loved hosting banquets, and her true love was knowing that Ducks Unlimited – Victoria Chapter was hers, but again you didn’t say her name wrong or push her around, especially at her event.
Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mom and Grammy are just a few of the titles she carried. She was Aunt Tanya to six nieces and nephews, Eight great-nieces and great-nephews; Mrs. Smejkal to countless friends of her children and grandchildren; and FRIEND to so many others. She provided a tremendous amount of compassion and love to all she encountered, leaving so many wondering how they are worthy of having the pleasure of knowing such an amazing woman. She entered into eternal peace on January 20, 2023 after a remarkable battle against ovarian cancer, when many never knew she was ill. She was a strong woman creating the illusion that she was never in any pain. She leaves this earth in physical form, but her spirit shall live on in the stories of all that knew her.
Tanya is survived by her husband Gary W. Smejkal; sons First Sergeant Scott A. (Sara) Smejkal of Cibolo, TX and Major Bradley D. (Lauren) Smejkal of Bertram, TX; daughter Amy E. (Jeff) Holly of Victoria, TX; 8 grandchildren, First Lieutenant Hannah Smejkal of Hill AFB, Utah, Gretchen, Graydon and Hudson Smejkal of Cibolo, TX, Brady, Brooke & Blair Holly of Victoria, TX , Brennan Elijah Smejkal of Bertram, TX, and 1 great grand-daughter Ava Tobar of Hill AFB, Utah; mother Margaret Kendrick of Inez, TX; brothers Michael A. (Virginia) Kendrick of Inez, TX and David H. (Debbie) Kendrick of Richmond, TX. She is preceded in death by her father Durell “Dude” Kendrick and Brother William “Dudie’ Kendrick.