April 26, 2023
In loving memory o~
Cathy Smith-Clark passed away peacefully in her husband’s arms on Wednesday April 26th after a heroic two-year struggle with ovarian cancer.
Beloved wife and mother and a friend to both human and animal alike, Cathy was a bright light who will be remembered fondly and missed terribly by all those whom she touched.
Cathy was born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan the daughter of Wally and Queenie Smith. She grew up in a house filled with art, music and creativity and all of these passions followed her throughout her life.
At an early age Cathy developed a strong love and devotion to all creatures. By the time she was in high school she had already adopted many stray dogs, and much to her mother’s dismay also a skunk, a lamb, a horse, several fish, a goat, pigeons, an alligator, a coatimundi and several pet monkeys.
Cathy and the monkeys moved on to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon where she studied for a Fine Arts degree. It was in Saskatoon after a series of very unlikely events that she met her future husband Ron at the time a medical student. Ron was able to tolerate living with the monkeys as well as the fridge-top tray of meal worms which Cathy raised to feed them. Cathy was able to tolerate Ron’s endless on-call nights and moves to Regina and Flint, Michigan during training. It was a perfect pairing.
Ron and Cathy were married June 24th, 1976 in Saskatoon. Cathy continued her modelling career, acting in commercials for tv and voicing over radio commercials. She also worked in tourism, guiding groups to Hawaii before she and Ron moved to Fernie BC in 1979.
Once in Fernie Cathy quickly embraced the community and brought her many talents with her. She initially worked at the Fernie Ski Hill in advertising and promotion, but she eventually followed her passions as an animal rescuer and trainer.
She studied extensively in animal behaviour and loved sharing that knowledge with new pet owners. She was well known for her skills in dog training and connecting people with their pets for over 40 years. Rehabilitating and re-homing neglected animals was her calling. Cathy was involved in many often difficult and confrontational animal rescues and seemed fearless when it came to sticking up for those with no voice. She once even went to trial for saving a new born elk that had been shot twice. The judge found her not guilty despite being charged with obstruction, resisting arrest, assault and possession of wildlife without a permit.
Cathy routinely volunteered with pet therapy, delighting residents at senior homes. She taught animal education at schools to introduce the joys of loving and respecting furry/ feathered companions. She would take various cats, dogs, birds, bunnies even a llama! She never missed an opportunity to share her time and experience with others. Fernie Chamber of Commerce recognized her as “Volunteer of the Year” for her work
Cathy was a staple in the creative community. She was a founding member of The Arts Station in Fernie and created in many media. She was a painter, jewelry maker, spinner and weaver, fibre artist, a writer of short stories and poetry. She could often be found around the community demonstrating spinning techniques on her wheel with various wools and fibres – musk ox, alpaca, angora rabbit and even golden retriever hair.
To say Cathy was multi talented and a natural beauty is an understatement. Cathy loved life. It’s no surprise that in her youth she was a runner up in a Miss Saskatoon contest or that she was a radio DJ in Fernie in the early years. She loved costumes (Halloween was her favourite) and wigs and hats and great boots. She loved dancing and gatherings with good friends. She loved fashion and royals and keeping up to date on celebrity culture and their latest biographies. She lived large and loved easily. She gave people the benefit of the doubt, always trusting her own instincts about what the right thing to do was at the moment, whether for a person or a creature in distress.
Cathy was pre deceased by her Father, Wally Smith and her mother, Queenie Smith and is survived by her daughters Jamie and Alicia and her husband Ron.
We give our heartfelt thanks to the doctors in Fernie, Cranbrook and the BC Cancer agency in Kelowna and Vancouver. A very special thanks also to the many nurses, X ray and Ultrasound Technologists, the wonderful home nursing team as well as the Lab and front office staff at the Fernie hospital. Your courtesy, kindness and professionalism made even our tough days a little brighter and are such a testament to the great quality of close to home medical care provided by our little hospitals in Fernie and in Cranbrook. Special thanks to Drs. Forrest, Gadsden, Chalmers-Nixon, Krickan, Michael and Stuckey who were with us through so many difficult times.
Memorial donations in her name could be made to one of her favourite charities “The Fur-Bearers.” or show some extra kindness and love to an animal in need.
A celebration of Cathy’s life will be held on June 24th from 1:30 to 3:30 at the Fernie Seniors Center. This will be an informal gathering so people are invited to come and go as they wish, however there will be a few speeches at 2:00 and an open mic to share your memories of Cathy. Everyone who knew her is welcome and her family looks forward to an afternoon of celebration as we share fond memories and laughter in her honour