This obituary is a part of a collection about individuals who have died within the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Shelia Smith was raised in rural Alabama and had an irresistible ebullience. “She never met a stranger,” her daughter, Shunkisha D. Smith, mentioned.

Friends, fellow educators and college students embraced her with diminutives like “She-LIE-a,” “She-Fi” and “G-Mama.” She was a fixture for greater than twenty years at Straughn Elementary School in Andalusia, in Covington County, not removed from the state’s southern border with Louisiana.

Her job title was tutorial aide, or paraprofessional. But colleagues mentioned that belied her on a regular basis influence and legacy.

“Shelia was special in so many ways: witty, energetic, fun-loving, personable, faithful, loyal, loud, fashionable, entertaining, enthusiastic,” Bettye Anne Older, the varsity’s principal, mentioned in an e mail.

“She loved big! Shelia loved our students and community, her family and her church, Alabama football and local sports teams,” Ms. Older added. “The special needs students that she worked with always felt special because of her, and she cared deeply for them.”

Mrs. Smith was vaccinated in opposition to the coronavirus on Feb. 4. While she commonly wore a masks and continuously used hand sanitizer, she was already displaying signs of the illness, and he or she examined constructive the following day.

She was admitted to a hospital on Feb. 10. Two days later, she was transferred to Mobile Infirmary, the place she died of issues of Covid-19 on March 26, her daughter mentioned. She was 61.

Shelia Diane Robinson was born in Andalusia on Feb. 7, 1960, to Comer C. Daniels, who died of Covid-19 in November, and Ethel B. (Robinson) Graham.

She graduated in 1978 from Andalusia High School, the place she was voted “class favorite” in her sophomore and senior years. Active within the First Baptist Church, she married Durrell Smith, who was the director of parks in Andalusia, in 1987. He died in 2012.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Smith is survived by 4 brothers, seven sisters, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Straughn Elementary’s college students come principally from low-income households. Mrs. Smith labored primarily with kids who had autism and different particular wants.

“They were her passion,” her daughter mentioned in a cellphone interview. “Her love for children is what drove her to do what she loved: helping and encouraging others to be the best they can be.”

Ms. Older mentioned that Mrs. Smith “could make them laugh, she could make them do anything. The kids loved her openness and her ‘Hump Day’ antics on Wednesdays.”

“We could never be able to replace her,” Ms. Older mentioned. “She was loud and proud. A real Southern lady.”



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