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Lois Jean Smith Larkin

Born on 5-7-1935. She was born in Niagara Falls, NY.
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Lois Jean Larkin was born to Nora Irene Love and John Ronald Smith in Niagara Falls, New York on May 7, 1935. There was one other sibling, J. Ronald Smith who was born on December 13, 1939 and who died on July 17, 2004. In 1942, the family immigrated to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Lois is a product of the Windsor, Ontario school system.

From her earliest recollections, she has always wanted to be a teacher. Marriage at age 19, followed by three beautiful children postponed this ambition; however in 1963 she was to realize her dream. A critical shortage of teachers, particularly in the rural areas, forced the Province of Ontario to devise a plan that would permit students who had successfully completed Grade XII, to enter the profession. Upon successful completion of this "emergency course", the candidate was placed in a rural school usually consisting of one room. In Lois' case, she was placed in the last Black one-room school house in Ontario. This was located S. S. # 11 Colchester South. The resident teacher was Mrs. Beulah Cuzzens, who until that time had been responsible for teaching 52 children in all grades from 1 - 8. Lois brought much needed relief taking over grades 1 - 4. Mrs. Cuzzens' thirty plus years of experience were invaluable to Lois in those formative years. She was indeed, her mentor.

Normally, a teacher who had arrived in the profession via the "emergency" route, would complete one year in the field and then return to school for a further six weeks of training during the Summer vacation. She would then teach for a second year and then she would be required to return to school for an entire academic year in order to obtain her certificate. In Lois' case, because of her marriage and the birth of her children, she was unable to complete this arrangement until 1963. She never ever lost sight of her goal.

Then a most fortunate thing occurred. A teachers college was opened in Windsor. In order to pay for her tuition, Lois worked as a store clerk and on her day off, worked as a domestic. She was not about to allow anything to deter her from her goal. In this way she was able to put aside enough money to pay for a baby-sitter so that when she was finally able to enter college full time for her final year, there would be absolutely no financial deterrent. She graduated from Teacher's College, second highest in the class and earned the McClaren Award for Teaching and Academic Excellence.

The principal at one of the schools where she had done practice teaching requested that she come to his school. She remained there for twenty years. Three years after arriving at her new school, she became a single parent. Undeterred, she raised her three talented daughters alone: Linda Diane is a licensed practical nurse; Cheryl-Ann, is an elementary school teacher and Michele Leigh is a Personal Care Worker for the Victorian Order of Nurses. Raising her children under difficult circumstances was for her a most challenging and rewarding experience. All her daughters are now married.

Still undeterred, Lois went on to continue her education at the University of Windsor. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in the university extension program. She graduated cum laude in 1972 . She continued her personal development receiving her Library Specialist Certificate from the Ontario Ministry of Education. Because of her exemplary qualifications, she was invited by the Ministry of Education to design and teach a course in Resource Media for the Summer School in 1975.

Lois has been a Red Cross volunteer, a volunteer with the United Way, a canvasser for the Cancer and Kidney Foundations. She has sat on the Board of Trustees of her church, the Ontario Chapel, British Methodist Episcopal over a period of some twenty-five years. For over fifty years, she has been the volunteer pianist and choir director the BME Church.

She has served two terms as director on the Board of Directors of the North American Black Historical Museum. Lois initiated and chaired, for five years, the committee responsible for the Emancipation Galas sponsored by the North American Black Historical Museum. She has been active in ensuring that Black children know and understand their heritage. She is considered a Griot by the community.

She enjoys painting, gardening, computer science and travel. She is the matriarch of her family of three married daughters and nine grandchildren. Lois is a beautiful, strong and totally committed Black Woman, fiercely proud or her Black Heritage. She is most deserving of the award of Uncrowned Queen.