OBITUARY FOR NAOMI SMITH
It is with great sadness that I write of the passing of a dear friend and neighbor, Naomi Bergum Smith, of 46th Street in the Gardens. She was 88 years old. Naomi attended the Little Red Schoolhouse, and Elizabeth Irwin High School, class of 1947. She was a high school teacher of English literature while I was growing up, the erudite lady across the street whose garden contained a Koi pond, later replaced by a stone patio (too many leaves in the pond she complained, too much maintenance). When I returned to live in Sunnyside, Naomi was here, and our adult relationship took on work outs, movies, doing the Times crossword puzzles together, and sharing gardening tips. And we drove up to New Hampshire to visit her dear friend Kay on Moose Mountain, where her ashes will find home again. Naomi travelled extensively in South, and Central America and Mexico, where she had spent a great deal of time with her father. From these travels, she filled her home with a collection of pottery and textiles: beautifully patterned rugs, table runners and napkins; tiny bowls to hold salt; small colorful flower pots and pottery, tin candelabras, funny little clay figures playing instruments, and the the large black Oaxacan urns shaped like animals holding up the sky. She returned to a small hotel in Mexico each winter for the last fifteen years, except this one. Naomi followed her interest in pre-colonial cultures to the Pre-Columbian Society, a group engaged in the study and understanding of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. There she leant her love of the culture, her precision, and her attention to detail to the Glyph group, where she became fascinated with the process of deciphering hieroglyphs found at various historical sites throughout Mesoamerica. Always modest in this mixed group of amateurs and professionals, Naomi worked intensely for the group; she was listed on the board of directors. One could find Naomi, almost every morning in the last few years, poring over the daily crossword at Aubergine Café in Sunnyside. She delighted in her special relationships with the establishments she frequented, and was caring and friendly to all the staff. She’d order a boiled egg (not on the menu) or oatmeal with walnuts, and while the waitress wasn’t looking, she’d switch out the walnuts for a half-handful of organic ones from her pocket. Why? I’d ask. Why order them if you aren’t going to eat them? Because it wouldn’t be right to bring in outside food. The principal of the thing was very important to Naomi, and she conducted herself accordingly in all matters, as far as I could see, with an air of precision and detail. Naomi had great strength and resilience; she survived the death of her daughter, and cancer twice. She succumbed to lung cancer finally, almost ten years after her doctor’s prognosis of one year. She is survived by her son, Tony. No services are being been held at this time.