Esther Marie Smith, a longtime Lindenhurst resident who served in...

Esther Marie Smith, a longtime Lindenhurst resident who served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in England during World War II followed by a long nursing career on Long Island, died in a local hospital after a short illness. She was 91. Credit: Handout

One of the hallmarks of Esther Marie Smith's life was her passion for reading: mysteries, political biographies and the classics.

She even combined her love of books with her lifelong vocation: nursing.

"She loved it," Nancy McGowan said of her mother's service in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II.

She'd read stories to her patients, said McGowan, of Lindenhurst. "She was so happy to do it. Nursing was her life."

Smith read voraciously -- even when she herself was the patient, her daughter said. "Up until her last days, she was still reading novels by her favorite authors."

Smith died of respiratory failure at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip on Feb. 5, after a short illness, McGowan said. She was 91.

Born in Lanesboro, Pa., Smith grew up in Deposit, N.Y. Her family recalled a woman who was dedicated to helping others and pursued a career in nursing to do so.

Smith graduated first in her class in 1941 from the Charles S. Wilson Memorial School of Nursing in upstate Johnson City, her family said. After a year of studies at Columbia University, she enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in 1943.

She served as a lieutenant at the 121st Station Hospital in Braintree, England, her family said. There, she met the man who became her husband, Gerald S. Smith, an Army medic, McGowan said.

After marrying in England, Smith and her husband returned to the United States, settling in Lindenhurst in 1951.

Smith worked for many years as nursing supervisor at Lakeside Hospital in Copiague until 1963, when she became the head nurse for a general practitioner in Lindenhurst, the family said.

Smith and her husband retired and moved to Calabash, N.C., in 1987 "to golf," McGowan said.

They returned to Lindenhurst in 2003 when Gerald Smith's health declined. He died two years later.

Esther Smith was also preceded in death by two children, Sandra L. Lynch and Stephen G. Smith, and a grandson, Richard M. Lynch.

Besides McGowan, Smith's survivors include her sister, Carole Larsen of Arvada, Colo.; another daughter, Marilyn Cummings, of Lindenhurst; 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

A private memorial service is planned for June 17 at Breslau Cemetery in Lindenhurst, where cremated remains will be interred.

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