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Jessie Smith, age 70, formally of Glace Bay, died peacefully at home on May 20, 2021, the way
she came into this world —surrounded by love.
Born in Bridgeport to two loving parents, Anne (“Annie”) and Clifford Knox, Jessie had a difficult
childhood that nevertheless taught her the value of kindness, compassion, love and
selflessness. Our Mom, it seems, was destined to spread love and kindness to anyone who was
lucky enough to have her in their lives - even if only for a brief moment.
To describe our Mom and all that she has accomplished during her life, in just a few short
paragraphs, is impossible. Those who know her will understand this.
Over the past couple of weeks, while we grieved what we knew would be a profound loss and
reminisced with friends and family, the word most often used to describe our mom was “angel”.
Mom was not perfect, nor would she ever claim to be. She was a terrible driver and chronically
late. If you phoned her to ask where she was, remarkably she would always say that she was at
the “overpass.” Though mom was invariably late, she always showed up for the people in her
Mom’s life was anything but ordinary. As a young mother, she worked as a cleaner at the local
University, then briefly a hair dresser (in the heyday of 1980s home perms), and seamstress
and costume maker for Festival on the Bay. Our kitchen was a minefield of pins and needles.
And, yes, there were injuries. She found a new calling when she started working at the House of
Hope in Glace Bay, where she provided support to abused and vulnerable women.
With five kids at home and little education, our Mom had the fortitude to go back to school. She
finished high school, went on to earn two university degrees (including at the one she once
cleaned) and became a social worker. She spent the rest of her working life as a devoted child
Mom’s work took her to British Columbia, for much of her career, where she travelled among
isolated communities doing her best to help families in need. We worried while she spent many
late nights driving on dark and often treacherous roads or working in the office, but she knew
her purpose and would not be dissuaded. When she entered a chaotic and difficult situation, our
Mom would turn to the mother in the home and simply ask “what can I do to help you?” And that
seems to define Mom’s relationship with everyone in her life, and her legacy.
Our mom was so many things. She was an incredibly hard worker. She was curious and
attentive to others, always up for a cup of tea, game of cribbage and good conversation. She
offered inspiring words and shared her experience lovingly. She was a free spirit. Mom loved
baking, sewing, bonfires, as well as fishing and camping with her family and dear friends. Her
abiding faith and love of God was matched only by the love she felt for her children and
grandchildren. She was a fiercely protective mother, always encouraging us to have faith in
ourselves and only wanting for us to be happy.
We say this not as her children, grief stricken and rewriting history, but as witness to her
generosity and spirit not just to us, but to so many others. Mom did not preach her beliefs. Her
exuberant, loving, compassionate and joyous ways was more than enough example of how to
She leaves behind her children Shane (Heather) Smith, Groves’ Point, NS; Sheryl Smith,
Sydney, NS; Dawn (Matt) Baglole, Ottawa, ON; Derrick (Lauren) Smith, Penhold, AB; and
Andrew (Alyssa) Smith, Edmonton, AB. She also leaves behind ten grandchildren, who she
unabashedly adored - Keshia Smith, Colton, Garrett and Oliver Mofford, Leah and Cameron
Smith, Conlin and Raya Smith, and Augustus and Violet Baglole. She also leaves behind many
siblings and life long friends.
Among others that care deeply for our Mom, Jessie joins her parents, favourite uncle Jake, aunt
Boyd, sister Margie and our Dad, Silby. Life is too precious and far too short but we know that
she will always be with us - in the lessons she shared, the love she gave and her selfless
example of how to live a good life.
Thank you to the doctors, nurses and staff at the Cancer Centre. A special thank you to Dr.
Khodadad. Mom was grateful for your care and dedication.
Cremation will take place under the care of Forest Haven Memorial Gardens. At a later date,
when family and friends can be together, a small service will take place at the Mighty Fortress
Church of God in Louisbourg followed by a larger celebration. Donations can be made to the
Cape Breton Cancer Centre. In mom’s memory, tell someone how much you love them or
simply ask ‘what can I do to help?
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