Rest thee, softly, softly rest.”
From The Chorale of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion
December 2, 1941-December 19, 2011
“What is a mere individual to do? Lead as sane and decent life as you can, love your family and your friends and understand that everybody is in this together.” — Ron Smith
Grandson Steven Francis Zappardino’s first high school
freshman composition written September 6, 2012;
the assigned topic was "A Memorable Moment":
A Memorable MomentOn the date of December 19th, 2011, a man by the name of Ron Smith passed away. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. This man was the best grandfather I could ever ask for. I know that he is in a better place now, wherever he may be. I am not happy he died, but everything happens for a “Reason”.
If you did not know him personally, I feel bad for you. He was an amazing man with many outstanding accomplishments. He won an Emmy and many amazing awards for his work. He was a very persuasive talk show host and worked at WBAL and 98 Rock for some time. Some people called him “The Voice of Reason”, because he always could make someone see his way as the correct way.
He found out that he had pancreatic cancer in October, 2011. He could have done chemotherapy, but he did not want to suffer. He figured he was going to die soon, so we knew he was going to make the best of it. Before this moment, I really did not know what it was like to lose someone and I really didn’t like the feeling of it.
It was especially hard on me because of how I was informed. It was just a normal Monday afternoon. When I came home from school, I was very tired, so I took a nap. Around 5 p.m., my stepfather woke me by saying, “Frank? Please get up. We have to go to your grandparent’s house; Poppy (which is what I called him) has died.” And I was shocked. I was still tired so I thought I heard incorrectly, but I knew something was serious. I ran upstairs, hopped in the shower and put on some fresh clothes.
We drove to their house, and still a little groggy, I was not ready for what I was about to endure. We got to the house, and even though I did not know for sure, I did not want ask. As I walked in to my grandmother’s house, I knew what had happened. I could just feel it.
I kept my composure throughout the night, but there was one moment that tugged my heartstrings. When my grandparent’s good friend, Scott, carried him downstairs and outside to the waiting vehicle, was the moment when I just lost it. I tried to stay strong for him, but I knew he was okay with me getting teary eyed for now.
It has been almost a year now since he passed and we are doing well. We had an amazing memorial service for him in January, where Mr. Jari Villanueva arranged a custom composition of The Ron Smith Show theme song played by the Montebello String Quartet.
We are raising money for pancreatic cancer research at Johns Hopkins in Poppy’s honor and have already raised nearly $150,000.
I feel that he is still with me in my thoughts and my heart, even though he isn’t here physically.
We all said that if he were going to go, it would be peacefully. I believe this experience has brought some of my family closer together. Also, I learned that humans usually respect a person more when they are gone. I respect him even more now than I did on any day when he was here.
I believe my grandfather’s death did take a toll on all of us, but we are better people because of this. I believe he left the world with his intelligence and his wisdom.
Once, my grandmother and grandfather were debating if he was going to live past the age of 70. My grandfather thought it was not going to happen, but my grandmother had faith. She won. He died exactly 17 days past his birthday.
If I could speak with him, I would tell him that I love him, and he would say that everything is going to be okay, and you know what? He would have been right. Like always
— Frankie Zappardino
June Smith is the widow of Ron Smith, WBAL Talk Show Host, Emmy® Award winner, and Baltimore Sun columnist, who was a media titan in Maryland area and beyond for almost forty years. Her tribute website, founded in his memory, is www.friendsofronsmith.com. She is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.