Cora Lenora Smith was born on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 1940, in the small town of Kilgore, Texas to Zelpher Fitch and Leonard Moss, who sadly passed not long after her birth. Cora moved to Portland in the early 1940s with her mother, stepfather, Sammie Fitch, and brother, Sammie Fitch, Jr., in search of a better life and to follow a family that was finding opportunity in Oregon.
Cora attended Roosevelt High School and participated as an alumnus throughout her lifetime. In high school, she was a debutante with Links, Inc. She went to beauty school and began modeling after high school. She married Hilton E. Smith from Exmore, VA, who she met while he was serving in the Army. They started a family and had three daughters, Lori Smith, Tracy M. Smith, and Cobi Lewis.
While starting a family, Cora became a pioneer in the beauty industry. She achieved her goal of starting a hair salon business which grew to be one of the largest full-service salons in the State. She also founded a skincare and makeup line, Cobi Cosmetics, for all skin types and colors. Simultaneously, Cora had a career in the fashion industry that included print and runway modeling. She won many international awards for hair, fashion, and modeling. Cora taught modeling in Portland Public Schools in where she influenced the lives of many youths in the City.
Cora was committed to her community and participated in Jack and Jill of America, Portland Rose Festival Association, The Portland Fashion Group, and the Delta Mothers, Bethel AME Church, and First Presbyterian Church, to name a few.
Cora loved her family and her friends, many of whom she met as a child and remained close to throughout her entire life. She was committed to giving her children the life she never had and exposing them to activities, programs, and travels—this also applied to her grandchildren with who she enjoyed sharing these experiences.
She was the beloved mother of Lori Smith, Tracy M. Smith, and Cobi Lewis, all of Portland, Oregon. She was the loving grandmother of Michael (Jamie Souza) and Marcus Dyer (An’Merie), and Miles and Nina Jackson, and the great-grandmother of Mikaela and Tyson Dyer. She is preceded in death by her mother Zelpher Fitch, stepfather Sammie Fitch, and her only sibling Sammie Fitch, Jr., and her aunt and uncle Johnnie Obina and Charles Maxey who played an important role in her life. She leaves a host of cousins, family, and friends.
Cora remained vibrant throughout her life with a fashion-forward and feisty personality that everyone loved. She was able to spend time with her children and grandchildren in the weeks leading to her passing. She passed away peacefully surrounded by her daughters in the late evening of May 25th, 2021. She will be eternally loved and never forgotten.
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