Cover photo for LaRee Smith's Obituary
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1962 LaRee 2023

LaRee Smith

December 10, 1962 — December 6, 2023

LaRee Smith, 60, passed away peacefully in Gilbert, Arizona on December 6th, 2023, with her eldest son and grandson by her side. Born on December 10, 1962, in Kingman, Arizona, she was the 3rd child of Ross Smith and JoAnna Shiflet Grunewald.

LaRee grew up spending lots of time with her loving Granny LaRue and Grandpa Kent on the Big Sandy near Wikieup on the Cane Springs Ranch riding “Broom Tail” the horse with her siblings. Moving to Mesa in elementary school with her father and siblings, she was a sprinter in track and a fast swimmer on the swim team at McClintock High School where she has won many awards for her outstanding speed and sportsmanship. LaRee was very close with her family, spending time with her siblings and friends making countless memories together.

LaRee had her first son in 1983 and started on her mothering journey. LaRee married Glen Elsberry in 1984 and had 4 more children. While being a young mother, LaRee had a passion for beauty so she attended and graduated from Vidal Sassoon Academy where her children were her best customers. She went on working at JC Penny’s where she became a talented Cosmetologist. LaRee and her family would always spend time in their cabin that ran on a generator in Cholla Bay, Sonora, Mexico. She would teach her children lifelong lessons, from being kind to others and family is everything as they looked for seashells as the tide was out. LaRee had a love of speed and had no fear driving her bright pink 4-wheeler up Sandy Hill in Mexico. 

    After LaRee and Glen divorced, LaRee started a career in Pupil Transportation as a Professional Driver conquering the Big Yellow School Bus. LaRee moved her children to Show Low, AZ where she did procurement for Sequoia Village School and helped start Sequoia Village open. LaRee met Paul Grabb and they got married in 1999 at Apacheland. LaRee and her family moved to Gilbert, Arizona. LaRee worked hard up to the Director at Excalibur Charter School for 10 years and ended up at Desert Hills High School where she was a Director for Transportation for 10 more years. LaRee was a Nursery Teacher for many years at the Power Ranch Ward for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LaRee was active in the LDS church and had a strong testimony, she shared teaching of the Gospel to anyone who needed it the most.

LaRee loved to paint, anything she could paint on. She enjoyed the simpler things in life, and she loved to dance to live music and karaoke with her family. She loved trail rides and gardening where she had a magnificent green thumb. She always looked on the brighter side of life, lived life to the fullest, and she was such a loving mother.    

LaRee was diagnosed with Lupus in 2009 and went on a hard journey, but she continued to dance through the challenges she faced. LaRee was a person who showed kindness to all with her nonjudgmental personality, she would give a hug to anyone who needed it the most. 

LaRee was preceded in death by: her brother, Ross Smith Jr.; and Mother, JoAnna Shiflet Grunewald. She survived by: her Father, Ross Smith, and Step Mother, Karran Kelley Smith of Mesa, AZ; son, Austin James of Eloy, AZ; daughter, Misty Elsberry Hernandez of San Tan Valley, AZ; son, Jason Elsberry of Pheonix, AZ; daughter, Megan Elsberry of Conroe, TX; son, Dustin Elsberry of Gilbert, AZ; and 14 darling grandchildren. Though she be but little, she is fierce.

Funeral services for LaRee will be conducted Friday, December 15, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. at Vining Funeral Home's "Chapel of the Valley". Concluding services will follow in the Central Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, LaRee's family has asked that donations be made to the Lupus Foundation of America at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of LaRee Smith, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Friday, December 15, 2023

2:00 - 2:30 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Concluding Services

Friday, December 15, 2023

Starts at 2:45 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

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