Official Obituary of

Bertha Smith

July 17, 1940 ~ February 26, 2024 (age 83) 83 Years Old

Bertha Smith Obituary

Bertha Mae Smith, 83, passed away on February 26th, 2024. She was surrounded by her family and close friends.

With great sorrow and bittersweet gratitude, the Harris, Smith, Grixgby, Dean, Abdulrahman, Rosser, and Woody families grieve the passing of our kind, brave, caring and unimaginably generous wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, Bertha Mae Smith.

Born July 17, 1940, in McGehee, Arkansas Bertha spent her childhood years in the South in the loving care of her parents, Ulicious and Hattie. As Bertha matured into a woman, she entered marriage with Jacob Payne, a union that brought forth a daughter, Mary Payne, and son Jacob Payne Jr. (aka Gary Smith). Bertha's early years were marked by resilience and determination. She made the choice to depart from Arkansas in 1959. Bertha was excited to join her father, Ulicious Harris in Portland, Oregon. She embarked on a path of discovery and growth, setting out to seek new horizons in Oregon.

In due time, Bertha found enduring companionship with John Willie Smith, whom she married on July 18, 1960, marking the beginning of a lifelong partnership filled with love, challenges, laughter, ministry, and shared dreams. Together, they welcomed their first child, LaFonda Jannean, into the world, followed by Anthony, Larissa, Eloina, and Kendra, each a testament to their enduring love and commitment to family.

If you knew one thing about Bertha, you would know that God was at the center of her life. Bertha's faith was an integral part of her being as she gave her life to Christ at the tender age of 17. Bertha devoted her life to serving the Lord and ministering to anyone she would cross paths with. Mother Smith functioned at St. Paul C.O.G.I.C. where she had many different roles such as worked as Mother Whitten's assistant to the Mother's Board she later became President of the Mother's Board, she was also President of 5th Sunday which was First Lady's Day (honoring Mother Foster) She was also an active member of the Jurisdictions Mother's Board. She later became a First Lady and was a member of the Pastor's & Ministers Wives Circle. Her and her husband John Willie Smith later joined Power House C.O.G.I.C., under the leadership of Bishop P.J. Mullen Sr. God was there, guiding her through life's challenges with grace and fortitude. Bertha found solace and strength in her faith, laying the foundation for a life filled with purpose and devotion. Many of her children and grandchildren would be awaken in the morning with her sweet voice saying: “Raise and shine… give God the glory.” 

Professionally, Bertha worked a surgical technician at Legacy Emanuel Hospital where she severed as a dedicated employee for 36 years. Bertha took pride in her work and viewed her colleagues as an extension to her family. Bertha celebrated the milestone of being able to retire from Emanuel to spend her later years continuing her mission work, being a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother. 

Bertha was a beautiful sincere woman and had a quite way of reflecting on life. Some of that reflection was shown through her love, as well as her work in the kitchen. 

Bertha lives behind six adoring children – Gary Smith, Lafonda Smith, Anthony Smith, Larissa Smith, Eloina Grixgby and Kendra Smith. Bertha leaves behind siblings: Mary Collins, Tammy Johnson, Alfred Johnson, Frank Johnson-McGhee, Otharyn Rand, James Harris, Phyllis Harris-Haynes, and Betty Harris. Sixteen grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Though separated by distance and different surnames, the bond of family remained unbreakable, a testament to Bertha's enduring legacy of love and unity. She has countless friends, church family, colleagues, and acquaintances. We are fortunate to have experienced her boundless love, comfort, hospitality, humor, and stability a family could ask for.

Her memory will forever live on in the hearts of those who knew and loved her. Bertha's life may have ended, but her spirit will continue to inspire and uplift those who were fortunate enough to have crossed paths with her. May she find eternal peace in the loving embrace of her heavenly Father, reunited with loved ones: father, Ulicious Harris; mother, Hattie Johnson; husband, John Willie Smith; daughter, Mary Payne; and siblings, Curtis Harris, Harvesta Harris, Constance Harris, Darlene Harris-Davenport, Anita Harris-Henson, and stepmother, Evergie Harris who have preceded her in death.


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Public Viewing
March 15, 2024

4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Terry Family Funeral Home
2337 N. Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227

Funeral Service
March 16, 2024

2:00 PM
Eastside Imago Dei Community
3130 SE 148th Ave
Portland, OR 97236

Graveside Service
March 18, 2024

2:00 PM
River View Cemetery
0300 SW Taylors Ferry Rd.
Portland, OR 97219


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