Jessie V. Smith passed into God’s eternal care on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, after complications resulting from a long journey following a lung transplant in 2016.

She is survived by her husband of 50 years Rogers T. Smith Sr.; their daughter Alana Clingan and her husband Elwood Clingan, and son Rogers Jr. and his partner Jennie Knox, all of Gettysburg; daughter Wendy Gallagher of North Carolina; granddaughters, Meagan Topper and her husband John Topper, Tehya Smith, and Riya Clingan; grandsons, Richard and Xander; great-grandchildren Meona, Cason and Preslynn Topper; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends. Jessie had a special relationship with her oldest niece, Stephanie Wansel.

In addition to her immediate family, she was survived by sisters Joanne Mitchell and her husband George Sr., and Toki Wansel, all of Gettysburg; sisters-in-law, Sylvia Reese and her husband Joe of Port Charlotte, Fla., Joyce Whitaker of Atlanta, Ga., and Terry Edison of Detroit, Mich.; brothers-in-law, Jackie Smith and his wife Kathy of Gilbert, Ariz., and Gary Smith and Clayton Smith, both of Los Angeles, Calif.

She was predeceased by her parents, Rosetta Wansel and Joe Penn Wansel; brother Nelson Wansel; sisters, Charlotte Wansel and Patsy Ambush; sisters-in-law, Connie Wansel and Edna Carter; brother-in-law Harry Ambush; mother-in-law Ruth Edison; and father-in-law Rogers B. Smith.

Jessie has left an impacting legacy in our Gettysburg community and beyond. She never sat on the sidelines of an unjust situation. She was a constant, consistent fierce warrior for unconditional acceptance for all. Her legacy includes helping anyone in any way she could, supporting young people to always “do better” and an unbridled love for her family and friends. She was a powerful role model and will be missed by all who knew her.

Jessie was retired from Pathstone after 30 years of working with farmworkers. She was a tireless advocate for farmworkers, children and families. Jessie was directress of the Blue and Gray Cadets, Youth Drill Team of Gettysburg, and a member of the I.B.P.O. Elks of the World Lincoln Temple #1400. Jessie was a long-time, active member of the Gettysburg community and worked her entire life to affect positive change in the community she loved. She was a member of St. Paul A.M.E Zion Church in Gettysburg and supported several nonprofit organizations with board service and advocacy. She received the Callie Award for Exceptional Women for Health & Human Services in 2002 and, in 2003, Jessie was inducted into the Advocate Hall of Fame by the Board of Directors of Pathstone Corporation for her service and dedication to farmworkers. She was honored with the Living the Dream Award by the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee in 2013.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Gettysburg Black History Museum Inc. at

Graveside services will be held on Wednesday, May 27 for family and close friends. We ask that everyone respect social distancing and for all others to remain by or in their cars to pay respect. There will be no viewing. A celebration of Jessie’s life will be held at a later date at the family’s discretion due to COVID-19.

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