Cathy Smith with her brother, Stephen Smith.

A Family Affair

By Suzanne Robicheau | fall 2017

Laurie and Kay Smith raised six children to value education and love Saint Mary’s.

“Midnight Mass, late night skating parties, and alumni events were part of our childhood,” says the Smith’s daughter Cathy Smith, a long time civil servant who is currently employed with Service Nova Scotia. “We all have degrees from Saint Mary’s. It wasn’t just the tuition discount,” Cathy jokes. “Saint Mary’s was, and remains, very much part of our family.” In fact, the tradition continues with the graduation of Cathy’s daughter, Martha Jane Smith Horsman in 2014 with an Environmental Studies degree, and with Cathy’s niece, Sara Fadden, in 2011 with a BA.

The Santamarian tradition began with Cathy’s father Laurie, a 1943 graduate of Saint Mary’s College. After more than 20 years as an educator, administrator, and legendary high school hockey coach, Laurie returned to his alma mater in 1966 for a succession of administrative roles that included Director of Administration and Scholarships, Dean of Students, Director of Student Affairs, Vice-President Administration, and Director of Alumni. A leader in services for students with disabilities, he had just accepted a new role as Special Advisor to the President, when he passed away suddenly in 1985 at the age of 64.

The Saint Mary’s University Alumni Association paid tribute to Laurie Smith’s legacy of leadership by launching a fundraising effort to establish the Laurie Smith Memorial Scholarship. Colleagues, students, friends and family members—including Cathy’s mother, Kay—pulled together to create an award that recognizes the academic success of graduates of Citadel High School in Halifax. Other criteria for the award include a preference for students who have a family member who is an alumnus of Saint Mary's and those registered with the Smithers Centre of Support for Students with Disabilities.

When Kay Smith passed away in 2016, Cathy and her siblings asked themselves how they might best honour their mother, her commitment to learning, and the family’s long relationship with Saint Mary’s. The unanimous decision was to add their mother’s name to the Laurie Smith Memorial Scholarship and make a generous contribution to the fund.

In a eulogy for Laurie Smith delivered in 1985 by Kevin Cleary, another distinguished Santamarian who passed too soon, the Laurie Smith Memorial Scholarship is described as a fitting and enduring honour. Thanks to the generosity of the Smith children—Patricia BA’74, Larry BA’77, Cathy BA’81, Stephen BComm’82, David BA’85 & BComm’89, and Brian BA’87 & MBA ’91—their mother Kay now shares this distinction and will forever support the institution for which she and her husband cared so deeply.

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