SMITH, Frances Kathleen (nee Bailey)

November 19, 1913 – December 22, 2012

Frances Kathleen Smith passed away on Saturday, December 22, 2012 at the age of 99 years. Frances was born November 19, 1913, in Bolton, England, the second of three children. Frances lived her life with inexhaustible enthusiasm, total dedication, high expectations and prodigious energy. She was a scholar, poet, author, mentor, volunteer, donor, philanthropist and the ultimate hostess. She left home at the age of fourteen to help support her family. While working in Scotland from 1933 to 1937, she pursued her love of mountain climbing, acting and photography. In 1937 she moved to Cambridge where she met her husband Walter MacFarlane Smith, a Canadian, who was in the process of completing his PhD. They married in 1940 and lived in London and then Bournemouth, both working in the service of Britain’s war effort. During this time, she was accepted into the London School of Economics and began her studies extramurally. In 1944, they decided to move to Canada and settled first in Quebec City where their first daughter Janet Elizabeth was born in 1945. In 1946, they moved to Kingston, Ontario where they welcomed their second daughter Sheila Kathleen in 1950. Frances completed her degree at Queen’s University in 1956, and in 1957 she began her career at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at its inception at Queen’s. She spent the next twenty-three years helping build up the permanent art collection, researching, and cataloguing all the art work at Queen’s, planning exhibitions, pursuing funds, and publishing numerous articles. As a friend and co-worker once said “She was a powerhouse. She was the core of the art centre and the energy of it. She put in 18 hour days, six and a half days a week – she took Sunday evenings off.” In 1970, she took an eight- month sabbatical to pursue her work on the biography of Andre Bieler (Andre Bieler: An Artist’s Life and Times), which published in 1980. She retired as Curator Emeritus in the same year. In her so called retirement, she continued to write, fundraise, organize exhibitions and took up bird carving which in typical Frances style, was done with perfection. In 2006, she moved to Calgary, Alberta to be closer to her family. Frances will be missed but will live on in our hearts and minds. She was predeceased by her husband Walter MacFarlane Smith in 1993 and is survived by her two daughters and son-in-laws, Janet and Robin Halliwell, Sheila and George Watson; three grandchildren Eric (Kimberley) Watson, Tara (David) Ramsden- Wood and Scott (Beth) Watson; six great grandchildren Ella, Katelyn, Georgia, Ben, Andrew and Abigail. Frances’s family would like to thank her companions Cherry, Katherine and Mercy for their wonderful companionship and also the nurses and the caregivers at the Wentworth Manor for their excellent care during her last six months. The funeral service will be held at Saint James Anglican Church, 10 Union Street West, Kingston, Ontario on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 10:30 am with a Reception to follow at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on University Avenue.
Interment will take place at the Cataraqui Cemetery, 927 Purdy’s Mill Road at 3:00 pm
Memorial donations may be made in Frances’ memory to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, University Avenue, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6.

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  1. On 29/12/2012 at 8:05 am Ruth Copot and Harry Hobbs Said:

    Sheila, George and Family- your mother was a remarkable woman, a life well lived her contributions significant. She will be missed by you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  2. On 15/01/2013 at 8:17 am Robert and Sibyl Stairs Said:

    Thanks to Sheila for her note. Frances and Walter were special friends while we we in Kingstn, and always. Frances was especially kind to us when we were new arrivals at Queens. We shall miss her. To Sheila, Janet and all, please accept our love and sympathy.
    Bob and Sibyl

  3. On 06/04/2013 at 2:57 pm Alevia Dalton Colwell Said:


    I was sad to read in the paper today about your Mother’s passing. I know, no matter what the age or how wonderful a life they have had, it is hard to lose your Mother. I am sorry we will be out of town on Apr. 13th but I will be thinking about you and your family.


  4. On 07/04/2013 at 11:08 am Joyce Waddell-Townsend Said:

    Dear Janet, Robin and families,

    My sincerest sympathy on the passing of your mother, grandmother, aunt, etc.. Your obituary says it all and she will be dearly missed in Kingston where she made a great contribution. I will look forward to personally conveying my sympathy on April 13th at St. James Anglican Church.

    Sincerely, Joyce Waddell-Townsend