Louise Smith, the matriarch of a large family and a devoted Catholic who taught religion for more than 60 years, died Jan. 26 of cardiac arrest at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage. She was 87.
Smith was dedicated to both her family and her church, St. Martin of Tours in Bethpage, where she was a daily communicant and religious instructor, her son, Rob Smith, said.
“She was a woman of faith and someone who really gave back more than she took,” Smith, 56, of Farmingdale, said of his mother.
Smith was born Louise Bellinda on Dec. 9, 1929, in Elmhurst, Queens. She met her husband, Harry Smith, while they attended Newtown High School and after four years of dating the couple married on Sept. 1, 1951.
“They were absolutely precious together,” Meg Vastola, 50, of Dix Hills, said of her parents.
Until he died in 2015, Harry never stopped calling Smith “his bride.” And Smith never removed her wedding ring — even in her last months when her fingers became swollen and her doctors suggested it be cut off, Vastola said.
Together they ran a beautiful household in Bethpage, Vastola said. Harry, a World War II Navy veteran, taught sixth grade at Dutch Lane School in Hicksville, while Louise tended to their seven children.
“She made everything seem so effortless, even though raising seven kids on a single teacher’s salary couldn’t have been easy,” Vastola said. “She always had dinner on the table by 5 and everything was always neat and clean and always filled with warmth.”
Smith committed herself to teaching others. For several years she and Harry offered religion classes in their home for local teenagers. Smith also taught religion at the church on Saturdays and later oversaw confirmation classes.
In 2015, she received an award from the Diocese of Rockville Centre for her more than 60 years of religious instruction, Vastola said.
“She sacrificed for her family and for her faith and she really cared deeply about the needs of others,” Smith said.
In addition to Smith and Vastola, Smith is survived by sons, William of Bay Shore, Richard of Fort Worth and John P.J. of Rockville Centre; daughters, Mary Cairo of West Islip and Kathy Pedalino of Islip; 27 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass was held Jan. 30 at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Bethpage. She was interred at Long Island National Cemetery, Pinelawn.