Brendan Smith

Brendan Smith grew up around his family's mortuary business and eventually grew into a role as funeral assistant — a role family and friends said he cherished and thrived in up until his death Sunday after a short battle with cancer. He was 30.

Brendan James Smith was born Nov. 19, 1982, the only child of Jackie and Jim Smith of Bodega Bay.

At two months old, he was diagnosed with kidney dysplasia. In 1991, before his ninth birthday, both of Smith's kidney's were removed and his mother donated hers to her only son.

Smith excelled at Cinnabar Elementary School, St. Vincent Elementary School and St. Vincent High School. At 16, he was diagnosed with cancer that doctors attributed to his compromised immune system following his transplant.

That diagnosis and other hurdles never stopped Smith, said his dad, Jim Smith of Bodega Bay.

"He never missed a day of school," his dad said of his early battle with cancer.

He graduated from St. Vincent in 2001 and enrolled at Sonoma State University where he studied business, and later, history.

"This is the most amazing thing," Andrea Rodgers said of Smith's resilience. Her family and his partnered in the mortuary business for decades.

"The obstacles that he faced healthwise, in the past as he was younger, in the workplace, they never made a difference. He never complained about anything," Rodgers said.

Described by his father as "a warm person with an infectious smile," he was a go-to guy at work, Rodgers said.

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