God Bless Kate Smith

Kate SmithOn June 17, 1986, Kate Smith, “The Songbird of the South,” died of complications from diabetes at Raleigh Community Hospital.

A native of Greenville, Va., the singer renowned for her rendition of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” spent the final years of her life in the Capital City near her sister Helena Steele. While living in Raleigh, she resided in a quiet cul-de-sac off Millbrook Avenue.

For an earlier generation, Smith was representative of all that was good and right about America. Her professional recording career began in 1925, and she became a major star of radio. She was a large woman and could belt out songs, such as her personal theme “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain,” like nobody’s business.

A professional hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, played her recording of “God Bless America” before a game in 1969. As it brought them a victory that night, they made it a team tradition and brought Miss Smith to the arena where she created near pandemonium and provided the Flyers with an assist on their road to the Stanley Cup.

The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp featuring Smith in 2010.

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