Friday, July 07, 2006

Moving on: Jesse Smith, 1968 - 2006

My nephew-in-law Jesse has gone away, after a long struggle with Hodgkin's disease. One of the nicest people I ever knew, and one of the giants of the ballroom dance world, Jesse was beloved by everyone who met him. He and his wife Lynda (my niece) were undefeated dance champions, competing and teaching all over the world. Jesse was also featured in an episode of HGTV's "TIPical Mary Ellen". Here's his obituary from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Smith, Jesse E. age 37, of Minneapolis. Professional ballroom dancer and owner of Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Minneapolis/ Edina, MN. Survived by wife, Lynda; children, Dayton and Elyse; mother, Mary Louise Bodinski; father, Jesse Smith; siblings, Therese Larson, Stephen Clausen and Nejla Smith; grandmother, Alice Smith; many loving family members and friends. Jesse was born and raised in Sioux Falls, SD and moved to Minneapolis in 1988 where he began his professional dance career. He began dancing competitively with Lynda in 1990 and went on to achieve four U.S. American Style ballroom titles. After retiring from competition, Jesse continued to achieve excellence in the international dance world and was highly sought after as a teacher, choreographer, coach, judge and performer. He was a member of the Arthur Murray World Dance Board and an area Chairman for Arthur Murray International. Although Jesse's professional accomplishments were many, being a loving and devoted husband and father gave him the most joy. Memorials may be directed to the Jesse Smith Miracle Gift Fund. Interment service 9 AM Monday, July 10 at Lakewood Cemetery Chapel, 36th & Hennepin Ave S. Service will follow at 11 AM at Hope Presbyterian Church, 7132 Portland Ave S., Richfield. Washburn-McReavy Edina Chapel 952-920-3996

The obit doesn't mention his loving in-laws (my brother Gary Price and his wife Joyce, also of Minneapolis) who are also deeply greiving. My heartfelt condolences go out to the whole family, and to his worldwide family of friends, students and fans.


Jim Unzicker said...

Dear George,

Jesse was the first friend I called a friend. We were from the "Free to be..You and Me" era. Blood Brothers - We were kids
I wish I'd kept in contact with him.
Do you know were I can send a memorial and how old his kids are? I've a few things I'd like to send off to them.

By the way Jesse was born in 68.

GeorgePrice said...

Thanx Jim, I corrected that birthdate. I should know better than to write entries after 4AM.

I've asked my brother twice for details about the Miracle Gift Fund, but no meaningful response. I understand it was set up by his Arthur Murray friends, so perhaps an inquiry to the studio would be effective.

Sadly, I don't know the exact ages of my great (truly great) niece and nephew, but I'm pretty sure they're both between 6 and 10. They live far away from me and I don't see them as often as I'd like.

GeorgePrice said...

Update: My brother (Jesse's father-in-law) says that his widow is accepting funds to help with the astronomical (make that intergalactic) medical bills and other expenses.

Mail your gift to:
Lynda Smith
c/o Arthur Murray Dance Studio
5041 France Ave. S.,
Minneapolis, MN 55410

Dayton is 10, Elyse is 8.

Jim Unzicker said...

Thank You so much George,
I am glad to hear of a place to send off a check(s)and the gifts.
So many stories of my youth start out- ..."my friend Jesse and I..." He was warm, kind, gifted and that was just at age seven. He's the kind a person I'd expect to see meet me at the gate when it's my turn in passing between this life and the next step.

Thanks Again!

Mikael Rudolph said...

Jesse was my boss and ballroom dance teacher and mentor for seven years. He was warm and compassionate and very generous - especially in giving of his expansive dance knowledge to his staff, who he invested in deeply. He loved to teach teachers.

More than anything, Jesse's impish sense of humor and constant wry wit made the studio a great place to work. We often stayed after hours as a staff to dance and enjoy each other's company.

A champion dancer, an excellent teacher, a great man. He is missed still.

Mikael Rudolph