Late Morris Heights advocate honored in street co-naming

Councilman Cabrera, Deputy Borough President Greene and several community leaders unveiled the street sign honoring Loretta Ruddock Smith.
Photo by Walter Pofeldt

A Bronx leader and community advocate was honored by the people she lived to serve.

On Saturday, June 11, Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene, Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson joined members of the Loretta Ruddock Smith Street Co-naming Planning Committee, Community Board 5 and the Mount Hope Housing Company at East 174th Street and Davidson Avenue to co-name the intersection ‘Loretta Ruddock Smith Way’ in honor of the late Morris Heights leader.

According to Cabrera, Smith was a well-known community leader and advocate for the Morris Heights neighborhood, the Bronx and New York City who worked on numerous issues such as education, housing, public safety, youth services and policing.

“She was truly a pillar of the community and the outpouring of support for the street co-naming pays a great tribute to her service,” said Cabrera.

Her impressive resume included serving on the Community Education Council District 9 and as board secretary for the Mount Hope Housing Company’s Board of Directors.

She is remembered as being an active proponent of CB 5 and the 46th Precinct Community Council.

Dr. Bola Omatosho, Mount Hope Housing Company chairman and CB 5 chairman, knew and worked alongside Smith for almost two decades.

Smith was one of the founding members of the Mount Hope Housing Company’s board of directors, he added.

Dr. Omatosho best remembers his friend and colleague as a generous lady who was passionate about children, very spiritual and loved flowers.

He said Smith was instrumental in organizing the annual ‘Play Street’ summer block party for local children.

Smith was an active parishioner of Charity Church of Christ for 42 years and held many leadership roles at her parish including treasurer of the Board of Trustees of Charity, Building Fund chairwoman and community liaison.

Every Saturday morning, she traveled downtown on the subway to buy flowers to beautify her church.

After Mass, Smith would take these flowers and distribute them to people she knew at hospitals and those that were ill at home in need of spirituality.

Smith was born on September 1, 1936 in Westmoreland, Jamaica where she attended primary school before moving to England.

She would continue her education there and further her studies after immigrating to the United States as a very young woman.

Smith was happily married to Waverly Smith for 45 years.

The couple did not have any children.

Dr. Omatosho said her sudden death on March 23, 2015 at the age of 78 came as a shock for everyone.

“She was a great lady and this honor could not have come any faster than it did,” he said. “For this to happen only a year after she passed away shows just how much she meant to the community.”

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