This letter is about you and the life you led, the people you touched with your golden spirit on this earthly plane, and those who will be receiving you in heaven. You were born on Jan. 29, 1970 at 4:15 am. The number one R&B song on that day was “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5. It was a snowy day in Chicago with a high temperature of 37 and a low of 21.
Ernie, you were the most dapper of all the kids on the block. Although always a well-dressed man, the most charming and impressive part of your style was the smile that was given freely and easily to everyone around you. You were well known and liked by all your teachers at Deck Preschool and kindergarten, Longfellow Grade School, Hawthorn Junior High School and lastly, Oak Park and River Forest High School in your hometown of Oak Park, class of ’88.
You then went on to San Diego where you spent six grueling weeks to become a Navy man. You made lifelong connections and created brotherhood through challenge and struggle there that taught you valuable lessons so you could continue to rise to the challenges of life. You found your niche when you used your gift of gab and charm to become a catastrophic claims adjuster working in the aftermath of events like Hurricane Katrina and Sandy. Again, you bonded with your comrades in the industry and made lifelong friendships and created more brothers-in-arms. You continued to make family, friends, and colleagues proud as you expanded your knowledge and skills in the industry and also attended classes at Temple University to expand your expertise.
You are leaving your mother, Joycie, a father, Wendell, three younger sisters: Joycie, Tabitha, Iris, and one brother, Wendell, here on Earth. You are the very beloved uncle to Erik “Tusk,” whom you nicknamed, and Mannie. Your many cousins, friends, and colleagues offer libations to the life you had and often remembrance about the loving and amazing person you are. Awaiting you in heaven is your sister, RaSheda, as well as grandmas, grandfather and uncles who cared for you here on Earth and with endless love will herald your final homecoming.
Until we can meet again in heaven as we have on Earth we shall miss you and hold you dear in our hearts.
With gratitude for being a part of your life,
Your beloved family
Ernie Smith of Oak Park died on Feb. 4, 2019.