Au­thor/columnist Ed Smith died Fri­day, leav­ing be­hind a legacy

Northern Pen - - PUZZLES - BY VIC­TO­RIA PLOWMAN THE TELEGRAM

Ed Smith is re­mem­bered as some­one who could leave you rolling on the floor with laugh­ter, and some­one who touched the hearts of many.

“I’m re­ally proud to be his daugh­ter,” one of Ed’s four chil­dren, Jennifer, told The Telegram Fri­day evening. “Not be­cause of his ac­com­plish­ments, and he had many, but I was proud to be his daugh­ter be­cause of how much he cared about peo­ple, and how much he was al­ways do­ing for oth­ers.

“No mat­ter what his own chal­lenges were — his health care, his ed­u­ca­tion, his com­mu­nity, his church — he just cared. And that was the most won­der­ful thing about him.”

Smith’s early life was de­voted to teach­ing, which he did in schools all over New­found­land un­til he and his wife, Mar­ion, fi­nally set­tled down in Spring­dale. To­gether, they have four chil­dren and six grand­chil­dren.

But Smith’s pas­sion was writ­ing. Widely known and loved for his sto­ry­telling, Smith be­gan writ­ing a hu­mour col­umn called “The View From Here” for the lo­cal news­pa­per in 1980, which to­day ap­pears in nu­mer­ous pa­pers and mag­a­zines across New­found­land and Labrador, in­clud­ing The Telegram.

Smith also pub­lished sev­eral books through Flanker Press in St. John’s, four of which are col­lec­tions of his col­umns.

Flanker Press pro­duc­tion man­ager Jerry Cran­ford said he was dev­as­tated by the news of Smith’s death, but re­mem­bers him as a great fam­ily man and friend.

“We ab­so­lutely loved the guy,” Cran­ford told The Telegram on Fri­day. “He just had a wicked sense of hu­mour, he was al­ways up on cur­rent events and he just found in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery­where he went.

“I’m still kind of reel­ing. … Any­one who had the plea­sure of meet­ing him or talk­ing to him has said they loved him, as a teacher, as a per­son, and we cer­tainly had that ex­pe­ri­ence with him here, too.”

Smith’s life took a dark turn in 1998, two years af­ter he re­tired from teach­ing, when he and Mar­ion were in a car ac­ci­dent that left him par­a­lyzed from the shoul­ders down.

Cran­ford re­calls that Smith never once let the ac­ci­dent hin­der him, and in 2002 Flanker Press pub­lished Smith’s sev­enth book, “The Ashes of my Dreams,” fol­low­ing a se­ries of short ra­dio clips about life with quadriple­gia that he wrote and pre­sented on CBC the year be­fore.

The book is an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy about Smith’s ac­ci­dent and his life after­ward. Flanker Press de­scribes it as “his ad­ven­tures and mis­ad­ven­tures of sev­en­teen months in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres in New­found­land and Toronto.”

In the book, Smith high­lights his new life, from his pain to his tri­umphs, and ev­ery­thing in be­tween. He also of­fers his own ex­pe­ri­ences and ob­ser­va­tions about the health care sys­tem, af­ter be­ing shuf­fled around from one med­i­cal fa­cil­ity to the next over the course of 17 months. The book won the 2003 New­found­land and Labrador Rogers Ca­ble Non-Fic­tion Book Award.

“He ral­lied his strength and he had his fam­ily’s sup­port the whole way, and so he kept on writ­ing,” Cran­ford said. “And he could most def­i­nitely hold his own against any other hu­mour writer of our day.

“We were at the wake for his fa­ther,” he said, de­scrib­ing one of his fond­est mem­o­ries with Smith. “Ed loved his fa­ther so much. He knew that his dad had writ­ten a short au­to­bi­og­ra­phy called ‘The Gren­fell I Knew’ about his ex­pe­ri­ences work­ing at one of the Gren­fell Sta­tions up in the St. An­thony area, I be­lieve, and about Dr. Wil­fred Gren­fell him­self.

“It was one of Ed’s great­est wishes that his fa­ther’s book be pub­lished, and I just re­mem­ber at the fu­neral home, Ed said that his fa­ther al­ways wanted it is­sued as well, so my dad piped up and said some­thing that al­ways stuck with me: ‘Life is full of missed op­por­tu­ni­ties.’ Well, we pub­lished the book, and Ed was ex­tremely happy.”

In 2001, Smith won the Gabriel Award for “writ­ing that up­lifts and in­spires the hu­man spirit,” as well as the 2001 Cana­dian Nurses’ Award for “ex­cel­lence in writ­ing and broad­cast­ing in the field of health care.”

“I mean, he had that ac­ci­dent and he’s been go­ing strong all this time since,” said Cran­ford, adding that Smith isn’t some­one who can be eas­ily for­got­ten. “Over time, I started think­ing he was go­ing to out­live us all be­cause there was no stop­ping him,” he joked.

“I’m re­ally go­ing to miss him.”

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