John J. “Smithy” Smith had a love for cooking.

Smith died on Jan. 12. He was 91.

Smith was born August 18, 1920, in Harrisburg, to the late John Smith and Ida Brown. He was the younger of two children. Smith ran away from home in his early teens and joined a traveling circus and lived among them for nearly two years. His formal education was limited but that did not prevent him from serving in the United States Army during World War II and receiving an honorable discharge.

Smith later had formal training as a tailor, but his love for cooking won out and led him to work for Main Line and Center City restaurants until he retired in 1995.

Smith later met his life partner, Queenie. Although he had no biological children, Queenie had several, and he cared for them like they were his own. He wouldn’t miss an opportunity to help out and was often available to baby sit and take the grandchildren back and forth to school or day-care.

Smith was independent and lived alone until his health began to diminish, and he became a resident at Bala Nursing Home in Bala Cynwyd in June 1999.

In September 2011, he became a resident of Tucker House in Philadelphia. He was admitted to Lankenau Hospital due to illness on January 5, and from there he was moved to the VNA Hospice of Philadelphia.

His parents, Queenie and his sister, Virginia, preceded Smith in death.

He is survived by seven stepchildren, Chester Robinson; Virginia Boone, Barbara Cropper, Lawrence Lane, Dolores Canady, Carolyn Coaxum and Dennis Lenon, all of Philadelphia; daughter-in-law, Lisa Lenon; sons-in-law, Benjamin Boone, William Cropper and Joseph Coaxum; and other relatives and friends.

Services were held January 18. Slater Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

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