Melissa Christian Smith, 44, nurse specializing in infants

Melissa C. Smith
Melissa C. Smith
Posted: October 13, 2012

Melissa Christian Smith, 44, formerly a neonatal nurse at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, died Sunday, Oct. 7, of brain cancer at Solamor Hospice in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Mrs. Smith grew up in Somerton and graduated from Villa Joseph Marie Academy in Holland. She attended the University of Pittsburgh for two years, then earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in 1990.

She had always wanted to be a nurse and volunteered during summers in high school and college at Holy Redeemer Hospital, her mother, Helene Christian, said.

After earning her degree, Mrs. Smith was a nurse in the neonatal intensive-care unit at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for a year before pursuing her career at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

She returned home in 1995 and, for the next 12 years, was on the staff of the neonatal intensive-care unit at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The unit cares for babies born prematurely and those with severe medical problems.

"Melissa was an advocate for parents," her mother said. "She wanted them to be able to touch their babies and help with their care."

Mrs. Smith was recruited in 2007 by Penrose Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, where she was appointed to coordinate the opening of the neonatal intensive-care unit at the new Penrose-St. Francis Medical Center.

The unit opened in August 2008, three days after Mrs. Smith was diagnosed with brain cancer.

In 2009, Mrs. Smith's former Somerton neighbors held a benefit for her, raising $22,000.

She and Keith Smith married in 2001 and raised two children.

Mrs. Smith had always vacationed at the Jersey Shore, and in recent years, she loved spending time with her family in Brigantine, N.J., where her mother now lives.

In addition to her husband and mother, Mrs. Smith is survived by a daughter, Allison; and a son, Colin.

A life celebration will be held Friday, Oct. 12, at Springs Funeral Services in Colorado Springs.

A Memorial Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 331 Eighth St. South, Brigantine. Friends may call from 9:15 a.m.

Donations for her children's education may be made to the Melissa Smith Memorial Fund, 3166 Squaw Valley Dr., Colorado Springs, Colo. 80918.

Contact Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or

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