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Mary Morgan Smith

Mary Morgan Smith passed away February 19, 2018 at Kendal, in Ithaca, New York. Mary was born in Buffalo, New York on April 4, 1922. She attended the College of Home Economics at Cornell University. While at Cornell, she met Robert Samuel Smith and they were married in 1942. She was a strong advocate for her husband throughout his career and remained his strong support until his death in January, 2004.

Mary was a dedicated mother of five children: Patricia Ley (Curtis) of Warren, Rhode Island, Peggy Rochette of Reston, Virginia, Morgan Scott Smith (Susan) of Lexington, Kentucky, Sharon Purdy of Sanibel, Florida, and Starlee Smith of Georgetown, Kentucky. Her generation valued being a wife, mother and volunteerism and she exceled at all three. Her volunteer commitments included the Service League of Ithaca and the Girl Scouts of America. When Bob was a Cornell professor, she was active with the Agricultural Economics wives’ group where she found fellow avid bridge players and golfers. She was an expert seamstress and left behind many needlepoint samplers to be treasured by her descendants. Her love of traveling was fostered by sabbatical trips with Bob and the kids to Israel, California, and, finally, Iran, where she taught English to Iranian children. Of her many talents, one of her best was her ability to make lasting friendships. Mary and Bob endowed the Morgan Smith Trail at Cornell Plantations to pay tribute to their mutual love of nature, Ithaca and Cornell.

Mary spent the last 14 years of her life at Kendal, under treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The Kendal staff became her extended family and always treated her with the utmost respect, highest quality care and good-natured affection.

Mary is survived by her five children and nine grandchildren: Jennifer Ley Thomas, Jessica Ley Moore, Robert Rochette, Laura Rochette, Hannah Smith Hall, Emily Smith Porter, Rebecca Smith Durman, Heidi Hephner Franklin and Megan Hephner, as well as twelve great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert, her grandson, Chad Rochette, her son-in-law, Dan Purdy, her parents, Ina Gill and Charles Morgan, and her brothers, John and Rex Morgan.

A family graveside memorial will be held in the Spring. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cornell Plantations – www.cornellbotanicgardens.org.


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