Emerle Dianne Smith, mother of The New Tri-State Defender’s late publisher, Bernal E. Smith II, passed away at Methodist University Hospital on Thursday (Feb. 21) — four days before her 75th birthday.
A dedicated and devoted sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend, Mrs. Smith was with family when she passed peacefully. She was born February 25, 1944 to the union of the late Mr. Hurley Cook Sr. and the late Symentruss Cook.
“Merle” – as she was affectionately known by family members and close friends – accepted Christ at an early age at Beautiful Zion Missionary Baptist Church. She was a graduate (Class of ’62) of Southdown High School in Houma, La. and attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.
At Cleo Wrap, Inc., Mrs. Smith served as production supervisor when she retired in 2006.
A consummate nurturer, supporter and cook extraordinaire, Mrs. Smith loved dancing and spending quality time with friends and family, who considered her a classy, fashionista. She was an avid reader and her favorite past time was reading suspense novels.
However, the joy of her life clearly centered around the love she had for her family and the time she spent nurturing and sharing wisdom with them.
Mrs. Smith’s “one and only love” was Bernal Ellery Smith Sr. They married June 24, 1964 and celebrated 46 years of marriage before he passed. To this union, three children were born: Karen, Bernal II and Cher.
A dedicated disciple of Christ, Mrs. Smith was a member of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood.
Daily examples of excellence best defined Mrs. Smith’s passion for life. She never missed an opportunity to encourage and uplift. Her philanthropic activities included, but were not limited to, Susan G. Komen, American Heart Association, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Tiara’s Teardrop, Goodwill, National Alliance on Mental Health, Mt. Vernon Scholarship Fund and Coat Drive for Kids.
Emerle Dianne Smith leaves an enduring legacy cherished by her loving daughters, Karen C. Rice and Cher D. Smith of Memphis, TN.; her siblings, Symentruss Turner, William Cook (Darlene Cook), Mac Arthur Cook (Rebecca Cook), Regina Cook and Stephen Cook (Hester Cook), all of Houma, La.; granddaughters, Kayla D. Rice, Brianna A. Smith and Kristin D. Rice; grandsons, Bryndon E. Smith and Braylon E. Smith; a great-grandson, Cayden C. B. Rice; brothers-in-law, Webster B. Smith (Nina Smith), Ronnie Smith of Los Angeles, Calif., Lionel Smith of Denver, Colo., and Alexander Bass of Houma, La., as well as a host of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
She also was preceded in death by her parents Hurley and Symentruss Cook; a son, Bernal E. Smith II. (Towanda Peete-Smith); a brother, Hurley Cook Jr (Carstella Cook).; Helsum Cook Sr.; a sister Druzella McKinley; her uncle, Nathaniel Thompson (Rachel Olivia Thompson); two brothers-in-laws, Gregory Perry and Harold Turner Sr.; and two nieces, Angela Williams and Rashenda Rounds (Spencer Rounds).
Home-going services will begin at noon on Friday (March 1) at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood, 620 Parkrose Rd. Entombment will be at Forrest Hill-Midtown, 1661 Elvis Presley Blvd. R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home has charge.