Irene B. Smerick passed away on Wednesday, November 30, 2022, at home, under the care of Lakeland Area Hospice.
She was born in New Kensington, PA on December 3, 1923. Her parents were Walter and Helen (Lacinsky) Dybas.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, John A. her daughter Rosemarie, her son-in-law Steve Gerenser, and her two sisters Dorothy Kovalcik and Theresa Szybka.
The Dybas family moved to Ford City during Mom's late teenage years. After graduating from Ford City High School and the Pittsburgh Business Training Institute, she entered employment at PPG Industries as a Telephone Operator and a Secretary. She met our Dad there and married him at age 23. Shortly after their marriage, our parents moved to Erie.
Mom had a long, healthy life and she would be the first to express her gratitude. Her life was supported by three strong pillars; her family, her Catholic faith, and her association with the Barber National Institute.
There were countless joyful gatherings at Mom's house to celebrate holidays and to root for the Pittsburgh Steelers. There was no bigger fan than Mom. She also enjoyed our family vacations, especially all of the trips to North Carolina's Outer Banks. She gave unconditional love to all of her five children, her son-in-law, her daughters-in-law, and her four grandchildren.
She is survived by daughter Barbara Gerenser, and sons, Walter (Louise), John (Stacie) and Robert (Ruthie). Her grandaughters are Amy Smerick (Amy Cosart), Katie Smerick- Hammer (Mike), Laura Christina (Adam) and Rachel Smerick (fiance Brandon Buzzeo). She also leaves several nieces and nephews and is survived by two best friends, Terry Rotunda and Eileen Custer.
Mom was devout in her Roman Catholic faith. For her "meritorious and generous service to the Catholic Church" she received the Bishop's Commendation for Service and was also named a Lady of St. Patrick. She was a member of St. Stanislaus Church, where she was a lector and participated in the prayer shawl ministry. After belonging to St. Marys Parish for 70 years, she adjusted well to the transition to St. Stan's, a church where she could embrace her Polish heritage.
Mom was so proud of that Polish background. She maintained her ability to speak and read the Polish language. One of the highlights of her life was her visit to Lublin, Poland, as an Erie delegate to this sister city.
When our sister Rosemarie was born in 1954, she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Mom had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Gertrude A. Barber, who gave us hope about Rosie's future. This meeting started a life-long friendship with Dr. Barber and an association with the Barber Center. She worked at "the center" for nearly 60 years, serving in various capacities, most notably as Dr. Barber's Administrative Assistant.
In 2002, she received the Barber Institute Distinguished Service Award. Mom was a passionate, lifelong advocate for people with developmental disabilities. In recognition of her advocacy work she received citations from our PA State Senator, the PA House of Representatives, and the Erie County Executive. Each of these citations noted that Irene made many significant contributions to the Greater Erie Area through her active participation as a Community Volunteer. They honored her as "an invaluable asset to many area organizations that helped make Erie County a better place to live and work." In 2009, the Erie City Mayor's office and our US Congresswoman presented proclamations to honor Irene when she was named ARC Advocate of the Year. (ARC is an organization devoted to supporting and improving services for developmentally disabled persons and their families). Irene was a member of ARC since their founding in the 1950's. She served as President, a member of the board and as the Executive Director.
We were blessed to have this amazing woman as our mother and
grandmother. She will be missed so much, but will forever be in our hearts.
Davis-Garr Cremation and Funeral Services, Inc. 459 East 12th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16503 is handling arrangements.
There will be a funeral Mass at St Stanislaus Church, 516 East 13th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16503,
On Saturday, December 3, 2022, at 10:00 AM. Irene's dear friend, Father Jerry
Priscaro, will be the celebrant. Private burial will take place at Lakeside
Cemetery, where Irene will be laid to rest beside her husband John and her
Online Condolences may be sent to Davisgarrfuneralhome.com
The family would appreciate memorial contributions be made to the Barber
National Institute, 136 East Avenue, Erie PA 16501.