Jesse Ellsworth Smith

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June 6, 1936 ~ January 5, 2021

Jesse Ellsworth Smith passed away peacefully in the VA Hospital on January 5, 2021, at the age of 84, in Sioux Falls, SD.

Friends and family are invited to attend a celebration-of-life gathering. Due to the pandemic and travel limitations, invitations will be sent at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please send condolences and donations to “The Jesse Smith Family” at 803 S Walts Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, 57104.

Jesse was born on June 6, 1936, in Aberdeen, SD to parents, Dr. Jesse and Alice (Ruble) Smith. The family moved to Kentucky and California while his father interned and served in the Navy. In 1946, they returned to Sioux Falls. At Washington High school, he had a strong presence on the stage, in the choir, and as a photographer. In 1958, he was drafted into the Army, traveled to Europe, and was stationed in Ankara, Turkey.

Jesse was well skilled in several professions and trades. Some of his professional adventures included disc jockey at KISD, newscaster at KPLO, in the late 1950s, (both under the pseudonym of Carlton Smith), owning a photography studio, and a sign business in the ‘60s. In the early ‘70s, he assisted his former wife, Mary Louise Hunt, with her dance studio, and in the ‘80s, he became a stay-at-home dad. A thespian at heart, he loved classical music and cinema. Jesse was an extremely witty individual who loved to make those around him laugh. He cared about civil rights and liberties and donated to causes in the hope of change. In Jesse’s last days, he lovingly expressed much pride and appreciation for his daughters and beautiful, talented grandchildren. 

Jesse is survived by his partner in life, Estella Vasquez Smith, of Sioux Falls, SD; daughters, Veronica Palmer, of Pembroke Pines, FL, Jennifer Palmer and Nejla (Luis Reynoza) Smith, of Sioux Falls, SD; grandchildren, Edell Gabriel, of Los Angeles, CA, Dezirae, LaShae, and Monique Palmer, of Pembroke Pines, FL, Dayton and Elyse Smith, of Minneapolis, MN, and Robinson, Eleni, and Evia Reynoza, of Sioux Falls, SD; sister, Kathy Thompson, of Baton Rouge, LA; and his cherished nieces and nephews. 

Jesse is preceded in death by his son, Jesse Ellsworth Smith Jr.; father, Dr. Jesse G. Smith; mother, Alice (Ruble) Smith; and brother, Garth Smith.

The family would like to thank the VA Hospital staff for their care and dedication.

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