Essie B Smith

May 18, 1944 ~ March 13, 2020 (age 75)


Essie B. Smith passed away on March 13, 2020. Visitation will be held Saturday, March 21, 2020, from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. under emergency guidelines limited to 10 people at a time. Burial will follow at Laurel Hill Cemetery.  A Memorial Service will be held in May. Please check back for updates and a complete obituary.

Mother Essie Smith was born on May 18, 1944 to Will and Pearl-Lee Smith, in Marinna, AR.  She was educated in the Forrest City School District and graduated from Lincoln High school. 

Mother Smith relocated to Des Moines, IA.  It was then that she began her career in food and nutrition.  From 1967-1972, she worked as the prep cook for the head chef at the Hotel Fort Des Moines.  In 1979, Mother  Barbara Long offered her a cooks position at a Day Care Center in West Des Moines and Essie gladly accepted.  While working for the Valley Children’s Center, Essie began taking classes at Iowa State University, where she earned a Dietician Certification.  In 1988 she was promoted to Dietary Supervisor until she retired in 1996.  She would then operate her own in home day care until 2013. 

At a young age Mother Smith professed Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. She was a member of Rising Son Baptist Church and would later become a member of Mt Hebron Baptist Church where she served  diligently.  Mother Essie had an impeccable professional work ethic and the same was true in her Christian walk.  She served whenever she was called upon and was always willing to lend her talents in the kitchen.  Mother Smith would also show up at Valley Community Church from time to time and her loving spirit will surely be missed there as well.  

On March 13, 2020 Mother Smith made her peaceful transition from labor to reward.  She was reunited with her parents, Will and Pearl-Lee Smith as well as relatives, Bessie Thompson, Lena Smith, Dena Smith, Gertrude Gills, Saul Smith, Willie Sain, Ruby Howelton and Terriyan  Valdez. 

Left to carry on Mother Essie’s legacy are her children, Jacqueline Smith-Avant and Darnel Smith-Howelton; grandson, Antonio Smith; sisters, Florance Johnson, Ann Matcalf, Pearlie Daway and Tonya Killings;  brothers, Gene Smith and Lee Smith and a host of other relatives and friends. 


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March 21, 2020

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Henderson's Highland Park Funeral Home
3500 6th Ave
Des Moines, IA 50313

March 21, 2020

11:00 AM
Laurel Hill Cemetery

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