Margestine “Margaret” Smiley, 96, of Hamilton, died June 30 at Diversicare Bradford Place in Hamilton. SUBMITTED

Hamilton community ‘pillar’ who helped children in many ways dies at 96

Margestine “Margaret” Smiley died June 30 at Diversicare Bradford Place in Hamilton. She was 96.

“She had a good life,” said Sylvia Sparks, 54, one of her nieces. “She was a pillar of the Hamilton community.”

Smiley served as a custodian for 27 years for the Hamilton City District working at Roosevelt, Harrison and Jefferson schools. When she was 76, Smiley was studying toward her General Educational Development or GED.

She also worked for years with children at Israel Baptist Church, where she has been a member since 1947. She was known to pick up children in the neighborhood and take them to church. When her ministry outgrew her car, she bought a van to transport the children, her niece said.

Sparks said her aunt also cared for children in the neighborhood. She was a volunteer tutor for 10 years in the Seniors Teaching and Reaching Students (STARS) program at Jefferson Elementary. For that she received Ohio’s STARS Volunteer of the Year in 2000 from the Ohio Department of Aging.

Smiley also served as a minister to female inmates in the Butler County Jail.

Sparks said her aunt spent her life “serving others,” including counseling those in local nursing homes and hospitals.

Now, Sparks said, she tries to emulate her aunt.

“It rubbed off on me,” she said. “I’m her legacy.”

Smiley, who had no children, is survived by two sisters Mary Ann Samples and Mary Helen Davis of Hamilton and a host of nieces and nephews.

Memorial services will be held at 6 p.m. July 21 at the Israel Baptist Church, 701 S. Seventh St., Hamilton.

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