Remembering Lesesne and Jim

Published 10:00 am Friday, December 30, 2022

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Lesesne Smith, grandson of Dr. Lesesne Smith, who founded the famous Saluda Baby Hospital and helped to create the medical specialty of pediatrics, has succumbed to his cancer. Lesesne became a resident of White Oak and was indeed a commanding presence here: he stood well over six feet tall and had a big, friendly voice and ready grin.

He often came too late to get a vacant seat at a table in our dining room, but he soon attracted other late comers to what was then his table. I met his sister Clara Smith Carter at PRO Physical Therapy some years ago. I sold her one of my books to cement our growing friendship.

I attended a program at the Saluda Train Museum which Clara shared with her late sister as they told about their grandfather and his hospital. Later Clara attended my own Train Tales program there. 

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I have developed close ties with Dr. Smith’s descendants, but they started with the good Doctor saving my infant brother Bill’s life in mid-1930s. The Doctors Jervey and Palmer recommended that Bill be taken to Saluda. Dr. Smith gave his little patients two ounces of Coca-Cola every day; I think that may be when Mother started drinking it herself. She always called it “Co-Cola.”      

  One of our close friends of many years has died in Newport News, so our children made all arrangements for us to fly there for a week. We met Jim and Judy North in 1968 when they also joined Hampton Baptist Church and its choir. The four of us, with SATB voices, therefore sat in different sections of the choir.

Jim often wound up directly in front of me as we sat in the middle behind the pulpit, out of view of the audience; our son Thomas could see us from the balcony and was amused to see us nose to nose as we both nodded off during the sermon. Jim’s head tipped back and mine went forward as we dozed. And I was sure that I heard every word of our beloved pastor Dr. Brown’s well-planned sermons!

Jim volunteered for years with friends of the library, and he brought me five books whenever they visited us. Jim had been on dialysis for some time; he was recently hospitalized and died overnight. Judy and Fran are like sisters, so you can understand that we had to go to her. They came to me when I had my first open-heart surgery.  

We spent Christmas with Thomas for his final week at the Holiday Inn. He will start to work January 2nd as Kitchen Supervisor at the Veterans Quarters. Most of our friends on staff at the Inn were on Christmas vacation, so Thomas has promised that we can visit again when they will be back at work. We and Thomas tend to form lasting friendships with many people!

We mailed well over a hundred Christmas cards and I send that many more by e-mail. Fran much prefers that people get a card to hold in their hands and enjoy seeing; after all, she spent more than a month cross-stitching the cover picture!

While she reads e-books with her kindle, she prefers a “real” book that she can hold in her hands and turn the pages. I bet most of our fellow seniors feel that same way! And we like to get our Tryon Daily Bulletin in the mail, even though it is also available online.