While I am in mourning,
I'll wear the same smile you wore for me the last time we talked, laughed and reminisced over old photos and sweets
— Jacquelyn Smith, 1996
PROVIDENCE — When Jacquelyn Smith was a student interested in science and math at Classical High School in the early 1980s, they told her she couldn't be an engineer.
"She didn't listen. She was determined," her mother, Anna Trisvane, told The Providence Journal Wednesday. "You could even tell it in her walk, that determination in her walk."
Trisvane can't help but wonder whether her daughter's determination may have played a role in her death in Baltimore early Saturday when she was stabbed by a man trying to take her necklace and pocketbook after she rolled down the window of her car to give money to what she thought was a panhandler with a hungry baby.
"I could see her holding onto that pocketbook," Trisvane said. "She was stubborn."
Keith Smith, 52, Jacquelyn's second husband, told The Baltimore Sun that the couple had been dancing at an American Legion hall, celebrating the 28th birthday of his daughter, Shavon. As they were driving home through East Baltimore, they saw a woman, who appeared to be holding a baby, panhandling in the rain. After Jacquelyn, 54, gave the woman money, a man approached under the guise of thanking her for the donation. Instead, he and the woman snatched the necklace and the purse, and he stabbed Jacquelyn during a brief scuffle.
After the man stabbed Jacquelyn, “This girl actually said, ‘God bless you,’ ” Keith told The Sun.
His wife of three years died about two hours later at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The police said they were trying to identify the pair who ran from the scene after snatching Smith's belongings.
True to her determined nature, Smith did become an engineer. After graduating from Classical in 1982, she earned a degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Then she worked for the Naval Underwater Systems Center, a forerunner of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport. After a couple of years there, she landed a job at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, an Army research facility in Harford County, Maryland, about 25 miles northeast of Baltimore.
Trisvane said her daughter traveled a lot for her government job, but liked to stay close to her Maryland home when she was not working.
As a result, one of the last times Trisvane saw her daughter was in March 2016, when Jacquelyn's sister, Roxanne L. Lucas, died of cancer at age 58.
This year at Thanksgiving, Trisvane was busy in one room of her Suffolk Street house when she heard someone come in the door. She came out of the room to see Jacquelyn standing there.
"It was a complete surprise," Trisvane said.
The family spent Thanksgiving at Roxanne daughter's house. "Just sat around talking, laughing and had a lot of fun," Trisvane said. "She had a strong laugh. She was fun."
Jacquelyn left the following morning. "We said our goodbyes," her mother said.
Jacquelyn had two sons, Alexander, 24, and David, 19, according to Trisvane. And she loved music and writing poetry, including "While I am in mourning," honoring her aunt Dominga, who died in 1996.
Service are planned this week in Baltimore and Dec. 15 in Providence, Trisvane said. "Jacqui was my baby."