Kathleen Trainor Smithson, age 76, passed away on March 5, 2018, in Windermere, Florida, following a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer.
Kathleen is survived by her loving husband of 53 years, Joe Smithson; her daughter, Sandra, and her husband, Bill Sellers of Windermere, Florida; her son, Shaun Smithson and daughter-in-law, Alexandra Jaritz of Alexandria, Virginia; and granddaughters Ema Smithson, Savannah Sellers, Sophie Sellers, and Caroline Smithson. She is also survived and loved by a host of cousins, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and friends around the world.
Kathleen is preceded in death by her parents, Peter and Catherine Trainor.
Kathleen was born in Workington, Cumbria, England, an only child. Her mother died when Kathleen was young, and her Aunt Rose helped fill the gap. She grew up surrounded by her cousins and extended family, and spent hours playing with Tony, Anne, Moira, Sheila, and others, who were like siblings to her.
Kathleen was a good student and enlisted in the Women’s Royal Army Corps at aged 18, where she served as a Postal Clerk in the Home Postal Depot, Royal Engineers. Her file notes that she “always carried out her duties with diligence and ability…and proved a cheerful, helpful member of her company”. In 1964, she immigrated to the United States to work as a housekeeper in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She soon met Joe and they married in March of 1965. Kathleen and Joe moved frequently as his career evolved, living in Virginia, Maine, Mississippi, England, Ohio, and finally Central Florida. Kathleen became a US Citizen in 1994 and remained a duel citizen of both the US and UK.
Kathleen managed the homefront raising two children as her husband traveled extensively for work. As Kathleen did not drive, she developed a strong network of friends and a taxi driver named Stanley who took her shopping and to doctor appointments. She was resourceful as she navigated a new country and new cities, and her outgoing and welcoming personality helped endear her and the family to many. She was able to balance the needs and wants of her family on a tight budget, and used her love and belief in her friends and extended network to find ways to pull things together even during the most challenging times.
Kathleen was a Brownie leader and PTA volunteer at Freedom Hill Elementary School, and a Post Office volunteer at Croughton Air Force Base in the UK. She worked within the expat community in the US and helped connect and comfort those struggling with being an expat during her time in the UK. She also provided childcare and support for many families over the years and felt that those friends she made were a part of her extended family even to the end of her life.
Kathleen and Joe were regulars at McDonald’s most mornings and enjoyed spending time with their “breakfast club” friends in D’Iberville, Mississippi; Kissimmee, Florida; and especially in Marysville, Ohio.
Kathleen was an early adopter and was an outlier when it came to generational stereotypes. She loved technology and new gadgets and enjoyed teaching others about their iPads and smart phones - often serving as a one-woman tech support service to her friends. She was a voracious reader and an amazing bargain hunter. She loved a good Biloxi Mardi Gras parade, sloppy roast beef po’boys, and spending time with family and friends. She lived a life within her means but pushed the boundaries when it came to experiences. She would travel miles for a car boot sale or an event and broadened the horizons of so many with her enthusiasm and ability to “rally the troops.” As she didn’t drive, she made sure she had a capable and mostly-willing companion to go just about everywhere.
Known as Little Gramana to her family and Facebook friends, Kathleen adored her four granddaughters. She taught them nursery rhymes, how to shop the clearance racks for bargains, and the importance of writing timely thank you notes. She taught her family the meaning of life and was not opposed to using strategic texts to massage the family egos and bring people back together. She naturally brought a room to life and was both humble and proud in every interaction. She taught the true meaning of respect to those around her and helped nurture those values in her family and the people she cared about.
Kathleen requested cremation without a service. Her family will celebrate her life privately in the coming months. To commemorate Kathleen’s love of children’s books, her family asks that you read a story to a child. Memorial donations can be made to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (https://imaginationlibrary.com/shop/).