Earlier this year, 100-year-old Columbus resident Lillie Smith added an unexpected milestone to her list of life accomplishments – she went viral. After her granddaughter, actress and singer Kamari Copeland, shared a video of “Grandma Lil” and her friend Jane on Twitter, thousands of people fell in love with the sassy duo, and the clip was shared nearly 58,000 times across the globe. And between the pair’s infectious giggles, spunky spirits, and friendship spanning nearly seven decades, it’s easy to see why.
Ironically, before becoming an internet sensation, “Grandma Lil” learned to use the very tools that made her famous through Ohio State University Extension. Eight years ago at the age of 92, Grandma Lil enrolled in several OSU Extension basic computer classes held at Godman Guild, including introduction to computers, the internet, and email.
At the time, with the possibility of the United States electing its first African American President on the horizon, Grandma Lil wanted to be able to more closely follow President Obama’s presidential campaign online. Now, she keeps four large binders of articles she printed off the internet detailing his journey to the White House, each carefully preserved in plastic page protectors, to eventually pass down to her children.
“She was one of my most devoted student,” said Robin Green, former OSU Extension Program Coordinator who was Grandma Lil’s computer training instructor. “She was always early and would drive herself to class.”
OSU Extension has been in partnership with Godman Guild since 2002, working to bridge the digital, economic, and social divide in Weinland Park and the surrounding communities through a variety of educational opportunities. In addition to the classes at Godman Guild, OSU Extension, Franklin County also offers basic and advanced computer training, financial literacy counseling, and home buyer education to residents in Columbus and throughout the county. To learn more, click here or call 614-247-1983.
Grandma Lil says those computer classes, and her ability to connect with family, friends, and information via the internet, changed her life. Today she primarily uses her laptop to look up helpful information and keep in touch with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren… and of course, her friend Jane.