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Obituary for Nancy Ellen Smith
Nancy Ellen (Kane) Smith, 76, arguably the strongest woman to have walked the earth, died on April 2, 2020 at her home in North Kansas City, MO. She is survived by three children: James Bradley Smith and wife, Julie, of Independence, MO; Jeffrey Douglas Smith of Rolla, MO; and Jill Kathleen (Smith) Riley of Lawrence, KS; grandchildren Lindsay Smith, Joshua Smith (and Tylar), Noah Smith, Decemeber Brammer (and Scott), Kyle Smith (and Katlyn), Sydney Smith, Riley Smith, and Owen Riley; siblings Larry Kane (and Linda), Paula Holler (and Don) and Kelly Kane (and Pat); and many nieces, nephews and cousins. She is preceded in death by her parents, John and Neda Kane and brother, Kevin Kane.
Nancy was born on March 16, 1944 and spent the first 18 years of her life in Carmi, IL with her parents and four siblings. Her fiery spirit and independent nature were apparent from a very early age. She excelled in school and believed she could do anything as well as or better than any boy and, indeed, she did. Upon graduation from high school, despite disapproval from her parents, she took a train to St. Louis, MO to receive training as a bookkeeper for TWA. She was transferred to Kansas City, MO in 1963. There, she met and married James J. Smith (deceased). They resided in Liberty, MO until 1989.
Throughout her life, Nancy fought for the equal rights of all people and wrote many letters to Congress and the Pope in support of important issues. She was stubborn, full of conviction, fearless in all matters and, certainly, full of sass. She had a huge heart and would go to any length to help someone in need. She had a unique gift for lifting people up and inspired confidence and motivation against all odds. Nancy was one tough cookie and made every sacrifice to give her children a good life. She fostered character and demanded integrity. She adored her grandchildren and treated each one like they were the only one. Family was incredibly important to her and despite living far away from many of her relatives, she treasured a strong connection with all, especially with her sister Paula, brother Kelly, and cousin John. Her smiling eyes and infectious laugh could light up a room and you felt completely at ease in her presence -- unless she didn’t want you to feel at ease and, in that case, you just stood still to take your medicine. She had a great sense of humor, a flair for sarcasm and was always ready to hear a joke or tell one.
She was a huge fan and supporter of the KC Royals and KC Chiefs. Her competitive nature was fully exposed when a bad call was made on the ball field or the gridiron, and no one was happier with this year’s Super Bowl. Nancy was dedicated to youth sports and founded, with a group of fathers, the Liberty Baseball League in the 1970s. She served as an officer for that organization for many years, and later served as a regional officer for Pony League Baseball and Softball.
Nancy was a devout Catholic and remained a valued and integral part of her church community her entire life. She believed women should have the opportunity to become priests and deacons and fiercely advocated on behalf of children abused by church leaders. With a love of music, she found joy as director of both the choir and handbell choir. She played a key role in the church environment and trained communion ministers. She was choir director and wedding coordinator for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, MO for 14 years. From 2005 until her death, she volunteered at Holy Family Catholic Church. She cherished her church family. Among them was her best friend of 34 years, John Winkels. He went above and beyond to help care for her during her long illness.
One-of-a-kind falls short as a description of Nancy. She was more than that to those lucky enough to have known her. She marched to the beat of her own drum and never cowered to anyone. She will be remembered for her colorful personality; as bright as the wardrobe of jewel tones she always wore with her signature red lipstick. She will be missed beyond measure.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation toward the Our Lady of Wisdom bronze statue, care of Holy Family Catholic Church in Kansas City, MO. Given the state of the world at this time, a funeral service will be announced at a later date.
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