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Katherine Smith

August 24, 1950 August 23, 2021
Katherine Smith
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Obituary for Katherine Smith

A celebration of Katherine's life will occur on

Friday, September 3, 2021

Wood Funeral Home, Inc.
5537-39 West Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa. 19131

Viewing: 10:00 -11:00 a.m.

Service: 11:00 a.m.

We request family and friends who prefer
to send plants or flowers,
to coordinate with one of the
following reliable local florists:..

June's Floral Design: (610) 726-4351
Overhill Flowers: (215 ) 473-1842
Simply Floral: ( 610) 622-7980

Have the florist deliver
your selection
to the funeral home no
later than 8:30 a.m.
the day of the service.


Life Story

Katherine Oliver was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the late Birdie Chester and the late Irvin Oliver Sr. on August 24, 1950. Sister to the late Irvin Oliver Jr., Katherine was the first of two children. She was educated in the Philadelphia school system and excelled in art, as it was the only thing that kept her interest.

Caddy, affectionately named by her late father, was a true “daddy’s girl,” She doted over her father and her mother was her Queen. In Katherine’s own words, “Mommy loved me and fought for me, but Daddy took care of me and gave me everything I wanted.”

From a very young age, Caddy lived by her own terms, by her own rules. She was gifted at studying people and understanding how to get her way. A prime example would be the “no more dishes” story, which she loved telling. Caddy didn’t want to wash dishes, so she pricked her finger with a knife and squeezed it so tightly that the blood flowed. Frantically, with a flurry of tears and the blood flowing, she told her father she was doing the dishes and cut her finger. It was at that point. “Big Irv” deemed Caddy no longer allowed to do the dishes. “Princess Katherine” would manage to escape all chores on that day.

Caddy’s mother Birdie was a seamstress and hairdresser keeping both her children neat, clean, and well groomed. By the time Katherine was a teen she had long “Shirley Temple” curls, but hated her mother fussing for hours over her hair when she could be outside playing. In true live by her own rules fashion, she cut her hair to save them both the agony! Needless to say she was , as she put it, a “bald bombshell, built like a brick house.”

Young Caddy would grow-up in a loving upper-middle class two-parent home with things that very few children had in the 50’s and 60’s. As much as people thought she was spoiled, Caddy was filled with love from both sides of her family and would carry that love and care with wherever she would go. As a very dark0skinned kid with a particular “air” and diction, she was picked on and learned how to defend herself and others. Caddy would say, “No mom, I didn’t start the fight…but I sure did finish it!” Undoubtedly, she had a wicked sense of humor with a mouth to match! Despite parental nagging to mind her own business, Katherine the warrior would become a real rebel who took on everyone’s causes!

Katherine was a teenage mother and married the late Gary A. Smith Sr. in 1974. With the help of her mother and father, they would raise eight smart, gifted, and hilarious goofballs. Arthur, Sabra, Donald, Dawn, Gary, Michael, Linda, and Darryl; her babies! Though extremely unconventional and often to the dismay of her parents, Katherine would be more of a friendly-mother-figure to her children lavishing them with gifts, games, expensive outings, and lots of sweet treats. She would teach her children, to always take care of one-another, to live with open minds and open hearts, to make beautiful things with their hands and to defend themselves without regret. Whether at home or “doing her own things,” her children knew they were loved. Throughout their upbringing, Katherine’s mantra was, “My three beautiful girls. My Boys…My Boys…My Boys!” No bones about it, she had her favorites, and everyone knew it! When Katherine had grandchildren, again had her favorites, they could do no wrong and you better not say otherwise! No matter her flaws, Katherine’s dedication and love for her family and friends were endless!

Katherine “with a K” as she spoke her name, was always dominating but became a force in many arenas. She learned early on how to “sit at the table with the top-dog to provide food for the underdog!” Having very limited education, it was impressive to witness how she moved in so many circles. Katherine spoke on panels with community leaders, educators, politicians and doctors about HIV/AIDS, Planned Parenthood, Housing and Food disparities, and would spotlight a host of other inequities and struggles. Katherine took pride in advocating and being apart of organizations like; Action Aids, Bebashi, Frontline TEACH, Philadelphia FIGHT, The Positive Committee, We the People, William’s Way Center, Women’s Group, MEE Production, and more. To quote our good friend Val Sowell, “Can we just say, Katherine was everywhere and did everything?!” She even brought her children and grandchildren into outreach world preaching service beyond self! Katherine became ill with renal disease and was on dialysis for years, but she kept on moving, taking to the streets with her electric wheelchair, socializing and spreading information. When Katherine became bed0ridden, her advocacy and outreach continued with phone calls, handing out pamphlets and information to visitors.

Though Katherine struggled with her ailments, she continued to live life on her terms. Handpicking her caregivers and dismissing those who couldn’t keep up. Katherine was good at telling you what her care would look like and how her care would go, as she knew the body she was in! Having contracted COVID-19 twice and suffering a stroke, she stayed impish and feisty. While there were many who experiences her feistiness, Louis Taylor (home dialysis nurse) became a very formidable opponent. They would butt heads over her care, but he didn’t scare easily ------ he was a welcome challenge. She was curious to discover how far she could bend him before he broke, but Louis stood up against hurricane “Katherine,” he never lost his composure! Katherine would sometimes admit the session was a good one but end with, “That doesn’t mean we’re friends!” Past the struggles, the two would converse and swap stories they grew on each other!

While it’s true Katherine loved friends a, and family, she loved the Lord with all she had! She would say, “So many things happened to me, happened because of me, and many more things never happened because someone prayed for me!” Katherine would drag her grandkids to church share scriptures, singer her gospels, and bibles as gifts was a real thing! The spirit of the Lord filled Katherine up, fueled her passion, strength, and determination to push through barriers. With her unwavering-fighting-soul, she beat so many of the odds stacked against her. Katherine lived to make liars of those who said she wouldn’t make it. Every time someone gave up on her, she promised her God had other plans for her! Katherine didn’t leave us when the doctors said it was time, she didn’t leave us when her conditions said it was time, she left when her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said (as Katherine would always say to her family care team) “THAT’S ENOUGH!” After the longest battle, the strongest woman in the world, Katherine with a “K” was called home on August 23, 2021; the day before her seventy-first birthday. With the blessing of the Lord, she left this earth on her own terms!!!

Katherine leaves to mourn six children; Arthur Oliver, Sabra Oliver, Dawn Oliver, Michael Smith, Linda Smith, and Daryl Smith twenty plus grandchildren, eight-great grandchildren, two stepsisters; Oren Whyche Shaw and Stephanie Whyche; two nieces, one nephew, and a host of cousins, extended family, her mate Roger, former caregivers, and friends.

To send flowers in memory of Katherine Smith, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events





10:00 AM 9/3/2021 10:00:00 AM - 11:00 AM 9/3/2021 11:00:00 AM
Wood Funeral Home, Inc.

5537-39 W. Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Wood Funeral Home, Inc.
5537-39 W. Girard Ave. Philadelphia 19131 PA
United States





11:00 AM 9/3/2021 11:00:00 AM - 12:00 PM 9/3/2021 12:00:00 PM
Wood Funeral Home, Inc.

5537-39 W. Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Wood Funeral Home, Inc.
5537-39 W. Girard Ave. Philadelphia 19131 PA
United States

Cemetery Details


Fernwood Cemetery Final Resting Place

6501 Baltimore Avenue
Fernwood, PA 19050

6501 Baltimore Avenue Fernwood 19050 PA
United States

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