Adeline Alice Panchenko Smith was born January 25, 1930 at her parents’ home in 58 Grote St. in the Black Rock area of Buffalo, NY. While her mother, Bertha Szczepankiewicz did the real work, friends of the family gathered to play cards with Peter Nicholas Panchenko, late of Kiev, Ukraine, ostensibly to support the waiting father. Adele said of them, “They then thought they owned me.” Perhaps she had been won in a wager.
Later, she lived on Military Rd. near the theater where Adele and her sister had once snuck out to go to the movies and had to shelter afterward in a doorway during a WWII blackout. Her last Buffalo address was on Grant St., now a Buffalo State College parking lot, in a home that was the epicenter of many spontaneous parties with her family and Lafayette High School chums as they rolled back the rug to dance and sing as Adele played piano.
Adeline was a looker, with more than a few admirers, and took pride in her appearance all the way to the days before she passed on March 30, 2020 at the wonderful Martin-Linsin Hospice Residence in Albion, NY. She often told her children, Jeffrey D. (Charlene Murray) Smith, Judith, Kathleen, and the late Gregory Emil (2015) that even when you don’t feel well, get up, wash your face and get dressed. This along with her concoction of warm honey, butter and milk were her prescriptions for life, which threw her a few curve balls.
After graduating, she began working a secretarial job at Tri-Co. in downtown Buffalo. She gave her dad her college savings so he could realize his lifelong dream of having a farm, this on Keck Rd., Lockport, NY. She lived there and carpooled and took the bus to her job, continued saving and bought a car and started buying nice linens. The late Garra Hensleigh Smith, a farmer from Shelby near Medina, NY became her husband. She knew no one but him and was not given the nicest of welcomes by one of her in-laws, though her new grandmother was kind to her. Adeline learned her new motto, “She who is transplanted still sustains.”
On Smith Farms, just south of Medina, she became known by some as the Apple Lady. She took great pride in keeping her open-air market neat and in good stead, constantly sorting the apples so only the best were displayed. She enjoyed getting to know her customers who returned from near and far, year after year and she watched their children grow. Adeline kept her own children fed and in clean, neat clothes, supporting them with a fierceness of the Sisterhood of Mama Bear and recognized the uniqueness of each child.
Adele, though baptized Russian Orthodox and confirmed in the Catholic Church, firmly said she didn’t need a go-between for her with God. She joined St. John’s Episcopal Church where she lead a Bible study and eventually chaired the Women’s Vestry Committee locally and regionally. She worked fervently at getting women in the priesthood of the Episcopalian Church. She later attended evangelical Bible studies and churches and deepened her personal, spiritual life. In later years, she was affiliated to no particular church but described herself adamantly as Christian and looked for the marks of such in the behavior and actions of those who professed. Adele was as fierce and opinionated an American citizen and Bills fan as she was a mother. Aggrieved by a lack of faith and honesty in the country she had choice words for world leaders and certain players and refs.
Adeline is also survived by her smart, talented and beautiful grandchildren, Jeremiah (Julia Rotman) Smith, Guinevere (Alan) Panek, and Jocelyn (Devin) Foran as well as her clever and adored great grandchildren, Graham, Alannah, and Eli Smith; Dudley, Grady and Margaret Panek; and Anwyn and Brenna Foran. She has several beloved nephews and nieces. Never one to play favorites, she loved them equally, but differently.
Due to concern for the health of all, a private viewing at Cooper Funeral Home and committal service lead by longtime friend, Rev. Vince Iorio at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Shelby, were held on April 1, 2020. A celebration of her life will take place at a later date.