Contance Pereira

CONSTANCE (Connie) SMITH PEREIRA, 79, Hubert/Jacksonville, originally from Los Angeles, California. "Staff Sergeant Smith" was a true Marine as she fought long and hard to combat breast cancer. She received her final Permanent Change of Station orders to report for duty to heaven, and dwell in the house of her LORD forever on Feb. 23, 2013. Most known for her laughter and love of animals, Connie has gone HOME to join her beloved husband of almost 48 years, Manuel A. (Gus) Pereira, and finally hold her infant grandson, James Michael Hunter. She was also preceded in death by her father, James Anderson Smith; her mother, Marie Holden Smith; and her stepmother, Marie "Mamie" Susan Smith.

She is survived by her two daughters, whom she loved dearly and was very proud: Jessie Pereira-Leonard of Jacksonville, Jacqueline P. (Hunter) Endicott of Hubert, and her devoted son-in-law, Mark J. Leonard, whom she adored. As well as her much-loved "puppies," Annie and Darby. She is also survived by her fraternal twin sister, Patricia Janet Smith of the Greater Los Angeles area.

In 1952, Connie joined and proudly served in the United States Marine Corps. Of her many duty stations, she was proudest of having been a Woman Marine Drill Instructor at Parris Island. After seven and one half years of active duty service to her country, "love got in the way," and she was honorably discharged to cheerfully transition her career to become a wife and mother. It was a decision she never regretted.

One of Connie's greatest joys in life, besides her daughters, was to tailor her own wardrobe. She often boasted that in high school, she received an "A" in sewing and a "D" in cooking in Home-Economics class. In later years, she delighted in designing and sewing quilts as gifts for her loved ones and friends. The family sincerely appreciates all the affection and support shown by her fellow quilters of All About Quilting in Jacksonville.

Although Connie professed to be a "plain Jane," and was not a jewelry lover, for many years she could often been seen enjoying a cup of coffee and "feeling elegant" when she hung out with her "diamonds" (treasured friends) at Brynn Marr Jewelers. We all agree that she was inwardly a beautiful person and now can wear her crown jewels in heaven.

Connie strongly believed in education, as evidenced by her attending Coastal Carolina Community College for some 18 years as a senior citizen. She attended seminars and continuing education classes studying everything from cake decorating to welding. Her personal wish was to be able to contribute to other student's learning for greater knowledge. You may honor Connie's memory and desire for learning by making a charitable donation to the Constance Pereira Memorial Scholarship/Cosmetology Dept., located at Coastal Carolina Community College, 444 Western Blvd., Jacksonville, NC 28546. She always said that "your hair is the picture frame of the body."

The family would like to acknowledge HANNAH (therapy dog) and the dedicated staff at Onslow Memorial Hospital IMCU 3rd floor for their genuine CARE and COMPASSION given to Connie (and her family) throughout her many admissions during her brave, yet arduous battle with breast cancer over the past 18 months. There are too many to recognize here, but they include everyone from the custodians, to the devoted nurses, to the Nurse Manager.

The family kindly requests no food or flowers. In lieu, please contribute to Hannah's favorite non-profit charity, LIFELINE CANINES ( 136 Wildcat Pond Road, Hubert, NC 28539. Among many of their duties, the canines affectionately assist Hospice patients and our Wounded Warriors.

While she could not afford to give financially to other students' education, Connie did ultimately contribute to education, by donating her body to science as a cadaver to the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. The family wishes to thank Jones Funeral Home of Jacksonville for their care and respect shown by their staff in handling the affairs of her supreme benevolence.

Family and friends will gather with the Rev. Kay Swindell, Deacon, to celebrate Connie's zest for life at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28th at Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery. Full military honors will follow. A dedicated Marine to the very end… "She is clothed with STRENGTH and DIGNITY and she LAUGHS without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25…. HER LAUGHTER WILL BE MISSED MOST OF ALL….

Published in Jacksonville Daily News from Feb. 27 to Mar. 2, 2013