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Published: Monday, 3/21/2005

50-year nurse volunteered at Seneca hospice

TIFFIN -Mary "Gina" Smith of Tiffin, formerly of Toledo, who worked 50 years as a nurse, died Saturday in Tiffin Mercy Hospital. She was 82.

Her family said the cause of death was a respiratory condition related to lupus, which she was diagnosed with in 1993.

Mrs. Smith began her career as a nurse around 1943 at Mercy Hospital in Toledo. Her daughter, Cathy DeChristopher, a former laboratory technician at Mercy, said her co-workers always spoke highly of her mother's performance.

"I would run into her in the hallway. I got to know her work habits. She was a very good nurse. I was proud of that," Mrs. DeChristopher said.

She said the reason her mother studied nursing was clear.

"She cared about people. She sincerely wanted them to get better," she said.

Mrs. Smith was born in Houston. Her father, Ralph Sanders, who worked in the oil industry, was transferred to Newark, Ohio, when Mrs. Smith was a child. She later lived in Toledo and Pennsylvania before settling in Bradner, Ohio, where she graduated from high school.

She graduated from the former Mercy School of Nursing.

In 1945, she met her husband, Carlisle Smith, at a dance at the former Hillcrest Hotel. Mr. Smith was on leave from the U.S. Navy at the time. They married after four dates, Mrs. DeChristopher said. After one year in Norfolk, Va., the Smiths settled in East Toledo. The Smiths celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last Monday.

In 1964, the Smiths moved to Fremont, where Mr. Smith took a new job. Mrs. Smith worked as a part-time nurse in the area during that period, her daughter said. The Smiths moved back to Toledo in 1970, and Mrs. Smith went to work for the former Toledo Mental Health Center, from where she retired in the early 1990s.

Mrs. DeChrisopher said her mother had a tremendous work ethic.

"[For her], you did things the right way so you didn't have to go back and do them over again. She was very diligent," she said.

In her spare time, Mrs. Smith enjoyed gardening and reading. In her later years, spending time with her 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren became her greatest joy. Her favorite holiday was Christmas.

"That was her time of year," her daughter said.

In 1993, the Smiths moved to Tiffin, so they could be centrally located to their children.

Mrs. Smith was a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Church and a volunteer at the Hospice of Seneca County.

Surviving are her husband, Carlisle; daughters, Cathy DeChristopher, Nina Solis, and Julie Meyer; son, Carlisle; brother, Charles Sanders; 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be tomorrow from 2 to 9 p.m. at Hoeflinger Funeral Home, Oregon. Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

The family suggests that tributes be to St. Francis Home and Hospice of Seneca County.

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