Obituary of Willie "Lee" Smith
Our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother, Lee Smith, passed away of natural causes on July 28 at a Boise Assisted Living facility after 98 years of life. Known affectionately as “granny toes” and “grandma smitsie”, Lee Smith was the loving, courageous and resilient matriarch of our family.
She was born Willie Lee Spriggs to Alex and Mamie Spriggs on February 2, 1920 in Wagoner, OK where she attended school with 6 siblings. At sixteen years old she met and married Edward Douglas Cannon (aka Sonny) and embarked on the most significant role of her life: mother. Together with Sonny, she had five children; Robert, Douglas, James, Shirley and Mary. In 1943 Lee and Sonny loaded up their two young boys, Bob and Doug to venture across the country to Richmond, California where their third son, Jimmy, was born. After a visit to Sonny’s bother, Olney, who lived in Caldwell, Idaho, they decided to make Idaho their home ultimately settling in nearby Houston in 1947 where both of their daughters, Shirley and Mary, were born. Lee joined the Deer Flats Free Methodist Church where she shared her faith with her children. With only her youngest child, Mary, still living in the home, Lee faced the first major loss of her life when Sonny died on July 24, 1966 at the age of 55.
After Sonny’s death, Lee and Mary moved to town where Lee became a medical receptionist/stenographer and Mary attended school. Good fortune came their way when Lee met a warm, generous and witty man, Leo Smith in 1968. A year later they married, blending their families and blessing Lee with two more children, Mike and Judy. Lee helped Leo with the books for Leo Smith’s Chevron on 10th Avenue in Caldwell.
Lee had many talents and interests which she pursued with passion and joy. She was an accomplished artist, favoring oil painting. For many decades she supplied beautiful afghans to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. A few squabbles may have erupted as we coveted and pined for an afghan or painting offered to another family member.
Together, with Leo, Lee hosted holiday parties and backyard barbeques where upwards of 40 family members would be gathered and play cards into the night and grandchildren often stayed for days at a time. Another major loss occurred when after 23 years together, Leo passed away in 1992.
Lee lived independently, painting, knitting, and traveling with her children and their families to Princeton, NJ, Palos Verdes, CA, Spokane, WA Edinburgh, Scotland, Paris, France, London England, her beloved Cannon Beach and her hometown in Oklahoma. She researched her ancestry and became a member of the Cherokee Nation in 1994 after discovering her grandfather’s name appears on the Dawes Final Roll of the Cherokee Nation.
The most tragic loss of her life occurred when her youngest child, Mary, died at the age of 42 in 1995. The death of her baby girl was an unimaginable tragedy, but she faced her grief with courage and faith. Indeed, Lee described finding peace and calm in the love and light of Jesus, especially in the most difficult times of her life.
Lee Smith lived a full life and was preceded in death by her parents, 5 siblings, her first husband Edward “Sonny” Cannon, her second husband, Leo Smith, her youngest child, Mary Rinearson, and two grandsons, Raymond Cannon and Reid Corta. She is survived by her sister Phyllis (Don) Rizzo, children Robert (Lyn) Cannon, Doug Cannon, Jim (Judy) Cannon, Shirley Cannon, Mike (Velma) Smith, Judy Elliott and her son-in-law Terry Rinearson as well as 16 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.
A Viewing for friends and family will be held Thursday, August 2, 2018 from 5-8 pm at Flahiff Funeral Chapel, Caldwell. Funeral Services will be held at the funeral chapel Friday, August 3, 2018 at 10:00 am with interment at Canyon Hill Cemetery.