Joanne Smith

Obituary of Joanne Vatalaro Smith

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Joanne Vatalaro Smith was born in Rumford on the first of October 1942. Her father was PFC Anthony Vito Vatalaro, her mother was Theresa McPhee Vatalaro. Her one brother is Stephen Vatalaro, who lives in Georgia. She was the mother of four fine stalwart children, Raphael, Gabriel, Jesse and Jacob and she mothered several Honorary Smith Kids. Her husband is Billy Smith; they have been married 53 years. Tracie Smith is her dear daughter-in-law. Heather Smith is another dear daughter-in-law, lost three years ago. Caroline and Conner are her beloved grandchildren. Richard and Ellen Smith, Debra Smith and Patsy Jenney, Bob Smith, and Bill and Sharan Ayer are among relatives whom she loved. She had friends in Canada: Grace Au-Yeung, Bev Pope, and Jude Giannokopoulos. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Saint Dunstan’s College, now part of the University of Prince Edward Island. She settled in Toronto, worked as a writer, and met Billy. When Jake went off to kindergarten, Joanne went off to Westbrook College and became an RN. She worked, effective and knowledgeable, as a clinical floor nurse with a specialty in orthopedic patients. And she worked advocating for patients, successful and diplomatic, as a nurse case manager. She always addressed life and life’s issues with the fearless and generous instincts of a superb nurse. We think she may be the first RN at Pen Bay Hospital to accept as a patient, a person sick with HIV/AIDS. Her nurse friends are all so dear to her - Patty Sheehan and Richard Fiske, Linda Esancy, Nancy Brimer, and Suzanne McKnight. Joanne was particularly dedicated to the practice and the promotion of Restorative Justice. In addition, she volunteered extensively inside the state prison system, where for almost 25 years she mentored prisoners one-to-one. She also helped to teach the Alternatives to Violence program; prisoners loved her. She admired Che Guevara. And Frida Kahlo. A true romantic, she loved Elvis, and “Gone With the Wind” and “Doctor Zhivago”. She baked bread, did wonderful things with pasta, and made the best blueberry pancakes ever. She kept a warm and welcoming home. She liked BBC detective stories, best with her killer popcorn. She loved biography and 20th-century history. She was proud to be named for Joan of Arc. Death was peaceful, of Alzheimer’s, at home, with family near, on 27 September 2021. Her ashes will rest in the columbarium in Saint Peter’s Church in Rockland. A memorial service will be announced in due time. Please, if you like, send a donation in her name to Attn. Joanne Smith Memorial Fund Restorative Justice Project - Maine PO box 141 Belfast, ME 04915 Through the website: Be sure to indicate that this gift is in honor of Joanne. Memories and condolences may be shared at
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