Karen Smith

Obituary of Karen Lee Smith

It is with heavy heart to share that Karen Lee Smith, of St. Thomas, passed away peacefully on April 23rd at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, surrounded by her daughter Alexis Smith (Toronto) and her son-in-law Simon Tham (Toronto), along with the loving support of her iconic Aunt Lenore Simpson (Windsor). Karen faced a very short but brave battle with stage 4 cancer. She is now reunited with her loving parents, Alexander Thornton Smith and Grace Elizabeth Smith (née Simpson), and her brother Stuart (Sandy) Smith and dear friend Dennis Emmerson.

To know Karen was to know her big personality, unmistakable voice, love of eclectic fashion, appreciation for good food and dry humor, and her incomparable work ethic.

To love Karen was to know her big, generous heart, sometimes protective shell, curious spirit, and relentless fight.

Karen's nursing career was as vibrant and diverse as she was. She supported the blind, cared for children with disabilities, helped front-line workers through occupational health nursing, and comforted those in hospice during their greatest times of need.

Karen was an extraordinary mother. She did everything in her power to provide for Alexis, ensuring she attended university and traveled the world. Against all odds, and all on her own, she always found a way. Her determination and love were passed on to Alexis, who took Karen on adventures around the globe. Highlights include Karen outdrinking Alexis at a Chicago speakeasy after a mobster tour and bravely cycling through New York City in a long dress and fur-lined loafers. Their escapades were filled with laughter and cherished memories, from discovering Milan's famed opera house without tickets to their final adventure wedding dress shopping in Toronto for Alexis and Simon's upcoming nuptials in August 2024.

Karen was grateful to take Alexis to spend holidays with her fabulous Aunt Lenore, going to the Windsor Yacht Club, shopping trips to Winners and attending hat parties and high tea. 

Karen and Alexis had also planned Karen’s dream European cruise to celebrate her 70th birthday. Instead, Karen “rowed” through the halls of STEGH in her hospital bed, telling everyone she was “cruising down the Rhine.” Her sense of humour remained a beacon of light, even when the universe had other plans for her. 

The bond between Karen and Alexis is unbreakable. They viewed life as an adventure, ready to tackle anything together. Their dynamic duo was unstoppable.

Some would say Karen was a “collector” and could have been a personal shopper. Anything you mentioned, Karen would find or have made, including things you didn’t need or know existed. Gifting was her love language, and she gave generously and thoughtfully. She had a particular fondness for buying and gifting lottery tickets, always sharing the hope of a little extra luck and joy with those she loved. 

Karen was full of ideas, fun facts, and funny anecdotes. An avid reader, she loved crystals and chakras and was trained in Healing Touch and Reiki. Karen, her mother Grace, and Alexis all took Reiki together when Alexis was just eight, creating three generations of love and healing.

Karen was, and always will be, a beautiful soul. Her body may be at rest, but her spirit lives on in all who knew and loved her. In her final days, Karen encouraged Simon and Alexis to stand barefoot in the grass and connect to the earth during their hospital breaks. She assured everyone she spoke with that she would be watching over them, and if you’re reading this, she’s watching over you.

Love deeply. Live each day to the fullest. Stand barefoot in the grass. Cherish every moment and hold each other close. For mom.

At Karen’s request, an intimate graveside service, complete with bagpipes, will be planned.

Special thanks and acknowledgements to Iain McFarlane, Randy Dugal, Brenda Norrie, Carol Burrows, Kim McDonald and Dan Guilbeault, Norma Cowell, Donna Clancy, Corrine & Morgan Bender, Chris Tilbury, Josie Harrison, Miguel Martinez, Christine Trentelman and many others. We appreciate the support and care of the staff at STEGH with special recognition to Dr Simon, Dr Hammond, Nurse Lindy, Christine Calhoun, and PSWs Devin, Janie and Justin.

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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Shawn Jackson Funeral Home
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