Deb Abraham Spalding
Mr. Francis Smith has been a beloved contributor of poetry to The Catoctin Banner for many years. On February 13, 2022, he passed away at the age of 96. As part of the Banner Team, he was creative, consistent, smart, and talented. He always offered a warm handshake in greeting and often shared a sweet smile along with his greeting.
In addition to his poetry, he was featured in The Catoctin Banner as a “Who Am I?” spotlight, a human interest feature, and in town news as Emmitsburg’s Poet Laureate.
Mr. Smith was a teacher, an artist, a poet, a man of faith, and an all-around good person. We miss you already, Mr. Smith. We will continue to publish Mr. Smith’s poems in the poetry section in his honor. Take a look at Mr. Smith’s life as described below…
Taneytown Man a Poet for 71 Years
James Rada, Jr. (published in The Catoctin Banner in 2017)
Francis Smith’s oldest dated poem, that he has, is dated 1946, more than seventy years ago. Over that time, he has penned thousands of poems.
“I enjoy words and how they sound,” Smith said from his Taneytown home, which is filled with notebooks of his poetry and more than a few loose scraps of paper with his poetry on them.
As essential a part of his life as his poetry is now, it wasn’t always that way. When he was a young man studying to be a priest in the seminary, he had a hard time catching on to what is so wonderful about poetry.
His poetry instructor was a patient Catholic priest. Each day, he would come into the classroom and begin by reading a poem. Then he would look at Smith.
“I would shake my head to tell him that I didn’t get it,” Smith said.
Day after day, poem after poem, Smith struggled to understand. Then, one day, the priest read a poem; Smith doesn’t recall what it was titled or who wrote it, but he remembers one line: “Meekly no angels fancy.”
Something about the poem touched him, and he understood. When the priest looked at him that day, Smith nodded. The priest went to his desk and picked up a large list of names and checked off Smith’s name. Apparently, Smith wasn’t the only seminarian who didn’t get poetry.
From there, his understanding of poetry multiplied, and he was soon tutoring a friend in it.
During his years at the seminary, he majored in philosophy and also taught at St. Joseph Prep School in Philadelphia. This served him well, because when he decided not to become a priest, he instead became a Carroll County teacher. Smith taught English in Sykesville High School, Taneytown High School, and Francis Scott Key High School, for forty years.
When he finally retired, Smith’s poetry and painting became his life’s pursuits. He is a cancer survivor, but it left him weak and unable to do strenuous activity. However, he can create pictures from word and paint.
“Writing and painting are my life,” Smith said.
He is regularly published in The Catoctin Banner, and some of his collected poems have also been published in limited-edition books.
Francis Edward Smith (96) Obituary
Francis Edward Smith, 96, of Emmitsburg, passed away peacefully on February 13, 2022. Born August 19, 1925, at Edlou Farm in Long Green, Maryland, he was the son of the late Francis David and Julia Elizabeth (Guelta) Smith. He was the husband of 50 years to the late Margaret Virginia (Bouey) Smith, who preceded him in death in 2015. He is survived by daughters Denise Lupp (John) of Littlestown, PA, and Marjorie Root (Steve) of Emmitsburg; grandchildren Jennifer Bolin (Andrew), Sarah Russell (Austin), and Nikolas Root; great-grandchildren Heath and Cassie Bolin; brother Leo B. Smith (Eleanor), sisters Mary Maritia Smith, SSND, Dorothy L. Feaga, and Regina E. Class (John Robert), and the late Julia H., Albert M., W. Kevin Smith, William Donahue; brother-in-law of Sally Smith. Also survived by many nieces, nephews, and other loving family and friends.
Francis graduated from Loyola High School at Blakefield in Towson, Maryland, and St. Louis University in Saint Louis, Missouri. He spent 40 years teaching English (and Latin) in PA and Carroll County, MD; retiring in 1990. He was honored as Maryland English Teacher of the Year in 1988 and Carroll County Teacher of the Year in 1989.
Francis was talented in poetry and painting. He self-published several booklets of poetry, frequently contributed works to The Catoctin Banner, and held the honor of Poet Laureate of Emmitsburg from 2019-2021. His artwork won ribbons in the Thurmont/Emmitsburg Community Show and Carroll County and Frederick Fairs. He gifted many paintings to friends, former students and family. Francis volunteered for the Emmitsburg Library Board, Emmitsburg Food Bank, and Emmitsburg Lifelong Learning Council. He was proud to be the oldest participant in the Run for Life in memory of Father Darin Didier at Mt. St. Mary’s University from 2011 to 2017, as well as the oldest participant at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for several years. Francis also enjoyed traveling the United States and chaperoning high school students on trips abroad, as well as gardening and walking.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mr. Smith’s name to Sarah’s Place Women’s Resource Center, Inc., P.O. Box 197, Sandy Hook, KY 41171, or a charity of your choice.