James Jones column: Remembering the legacy of Emma Smith

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 1, 2023

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At this time last year, the Smith family and the Selma community mourned the passing of a wonderful mother.

Emma Smith passed away on Aug. 29, 2022. During her life, she impacted lives beyond her three children, Dr. Kesia Smith, Kathy Johnson and Kelvin Smith Jr. and seven grandchildren, reaching into numerous Selma and Dallas County through her kind heart and generosity.

I remember writing the news obituary of Smith’s legacy for our weekend edition. At first, I had difficulty getting started to write the story. But things changed when The Selma Times-Journal received countless calls by Smith’s family and friends who offered of tributes on what she meant to them.

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I managed to get most of those into our e-edition and print edition and received praise throughout the community for the article. I eventually won second place for best News Story by the Alabama Press Association.

A week after Smith’s death, the Valley Grande City Council honored Smith’s family at a council meeting. Valley Grande Council member Kay Davidson was friends with Smith and her two daughters.

Smith held various jobs in her life, including as a foster and adoptive parent for over 30 years, a manager at Captain D’s and driving a bus for the Dallas County School System. Her employers included: Leila’s Day Care and Cornerstone Presbyterian Church Nursery.

Janet Atchison, perhaps, summed it up best when she said Smith’s love for children was invaluable.

“Emma had a deep love and compassion for all children, especially those who were in difficult family situations,” Atchison said. “She opened her home to many children in the Foster Care program and treated them as her own. Emma was a beautiful, caring woman.”

I never got the opportunity to meet Emma Smith, and it would have been my biggest honor since moving to Selma five years ago.  I feel badly writing about her when she’s no longer living on this earth. She deserved praise for impacting so many lives.

If there’s a bright spot to Smith’s passing for me, it is that I got to know one of her children very well since arriving in Selma. While I won’t reveal that person, Emma Smith would be proud of her child’s love and tenderness.

Smith may be gone but her legacy will live through her children and grandchildren for years to come. Count on it.