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.
"He could get anything done," she said. "If he sensed that something needed to be done, he would do it or he would take care of things for you."
Diagnosed with cancer in his sinus seven weeks ago, Smith continued checking in on work and with colleagues.
A fan of movies, he'd often pour a glass of brandy and water and watch a film, usually with "the kids," his two cats Colt and Remy, his dad said.
Other nights, he would make dinner for friends.
"He loved to socialize," Jim Smith said. "They were a cross section of the community, a very eclectic group of friends."
Smith was an avid deer and duck hunter and was active in a slew of social and fraternal groups. He also served as a board member of the San Antonio Volunteer Fire Department.
In addition to his father, Smith is survived by his mother, Jackie Smith of Bodega Bay; and his grandfather, John Aguiar Sr. of Petaluma.
Visitation will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday at Parent-Sorensen Mortuary & Crematory, 850 Keokuk St., Petaluma. A vigil service will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 35 Liberty St., Petaluma. A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m Friday at St. Vincent de Paul Church. Entombment will be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Petaluma.
Donations in Smith's name can be made to St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church Restoration Fund, P.O. Box 339, Occidental, Ca., 95465 or a favorite charity.