Receptionist’s Love of Sewing and People Still Comforts Patients After Her Passing | SSM Health Matters Blog

Even long after her passing, Kathy Smith’s generosity and compassion continue to be felt at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – Lake St. Louis.

Kathy was our longtime concierge and receptionist at the front desk who was well known for her excellent sewing and crafting abilities. She created quilts and fleeces for just about anyone – family, friends, colleagues and even our patients.

Larry Smith, Kathy’s husband of 52 years, recently decided it was time to fulfill one of his wife’s last wishes.

“I would come home every day and see the quilts and blankets and whatever she was working on,” Larry said. “A few weeks ago I decided it was time to make some changes here at home. It was hard to let it all go, but I decided it was time to reach out to Kim Emge and make Kathy’s wishes come true.

Kim is our Community Resource Nurse who has worked with Kathy on many quilting projects over the years. Larry called her, offering to donate cupboards full of blankets Kathy had left – some fully assembled, some partially – in addition to a shipload of yarn and fabric assortments.

“Kathy left a note in my dresser drawer with specific instructions that Kim Emge should be notified and the blankets should be sent to her,” Larry said. “I called Kim and said, ‘You might be surprised how many we have.’ She said, ‘Oh no, you can’t catch me with Kathy.’ But I think she was a little surprised when we ended up with 12 to 15 bags full of blankets for cancer patients.


“We filled the back of his car and I said, ‘Make sure you use your side mirrors to get home! “”

Prior to her death, Kathy had donated 76 blankets to St. Joseph’s Hospital. This latest donation will provide at least 38 more, and the yarn will be used to crochet more in the future. They will be given to patients through our Cancer Resource Center as well as to people receiving palliative care services.

Kathy spent the last year of her life battling ovarian cancer. The covers will be labeled in his honor.

“Quilting may have been her main love,” Larry said, “but her real pride and joy was just seeing someone smile.”

“Kathy had to listen to (hospice nurse) Heather Stock and I discuss ways to get more blankets,” Kim said. “She left such an incredible legacy to our hospital that will continue to bring comfort to our patients.”

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