The room was transformed into an elegant meeting place, prepared to honor and celebrate the Queen of the Evening—Ms. Rosemary St. Cyr Smith—who turned 93 years old.
The event was held at The Ballroom at Bayou Place and brought out countless dignitaries, family members and friends, to celebrate the momentous occasion.
Queen Rosemary was ushered in on her wheeled chariot by several dapper gentlemen, led by her beloved son Hiram Smith. After receiving praise from the audience in her chariot, she was gingerly escorted up the stairs to her Queen’s chair, so she could continue receiving her just praise and honor.
She was provided several proclamations and received praise-filled remarks from U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Representative Ron Reynolds, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Missouri City Mayor Robin Elackatt, Missouri City Councilmembers Lynn Clouser and Jeffrey L. Boney. Remarks were also given by Fountain of Praise Church co-pastors Remus and Mia Wright, Queen Rosemary’s family members and many more. There were several performances given to honor the 93-year-old retired educator, including a praise dance group and an exciting New Orleans style Second Line Band performance by the High Steppers Brass Band, which had everyone on their feet and on the dance floor having a great time.
Her son Hiram Smith, CEO of HiramStyle, Inc., shared the following tribute about his esteemed mother:
A Queen is one who is preeminent over most. She is Royal and Respected by all. A Queen has compassion for her community and has class personified. Older women admire her. Young women aspire to be like her. All men bow down to her and honor her unselfish works for humanity. I have described to you my Queen, my mother Rosemary St. Cyr Smith. As we continue to celebrate her 93 glorious years, join me as I say . . . Hail to the Queen.
Queen Rosemary was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 31, 1928. She is the daughter and fourth child of Johnny St. Cyr—a musician internationally known as the banjo player in Louis Armstrong’s seminal Hot Five band—and Augustine Moore St. Cyr.
The St. Cyr family has deep roots in New Orleans, where Queen Rosemary and her siblings grew up and attended school, while embracing the music and education traditions of both parents. She graduated from Dillard University with a Bachelors of Music. She received her Masters Plus 30 from Xavier and other universities. She eventually joined Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Queen Rosemary decided to become a teacher and went on to marry a fellow educator—the late Willie Smith Jr.—after whom the only Black school is named in St. Bernard Parish. To their union, four children were born—Delecia, Vondel, and twins JoyVelvye and Hiram.
Having been widowed as a young mother, Queen Rosemary dedicated her life to not only rearing her own children, but by carrying her strong maternal sensibilities into and outside of the classroom as a highly respected teacher and principal. Her uncommon generosity of spirit and concern for others led her to share the experiences she provided for her own children with other neighborhood children. She has served as a shining example of one who has a genuine relationship with God and one of who exhibits the highest standards of a woman of grace, elegance, and wisdom—one whom the Bible describes as a “virtuous woman” or a Proverbs 31 woman.
Not surprisingly, Queen Rosemary’s accomplishments garnered innumerable awards and accolades during her 34 years as an educator in the New Orleans Public School System, as well as the enduring love and respect of her students and colleagues. Her retirement did not last long, as she decided she had more to give by authoring and directing programs for the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) “Teen Camps”. All the while, this unstoppable lady played the organ and served as a Minister of Music for Philips Memorial United Methodist Church for over 50 years.
Life significantly changed for Queen Rosemary in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed all the family’s homes in New Orleans, causing everyone to move to Houston, Texas. Grateful for the support she and her children received in their relocation, she enthusiastically embraced her status as a newly minted Houstonian and was determined to continue to make a difference through service. She eventually connected with the St. John’s United Methodist Church of which Rudy Rasmus is the pastor. She began to work actively in the ministry. Well into her 80s, she developed the program called “Diamond and Pearls,” which is a group of almost 250 multi-cultural seniors (ages 50-95) who assemble every Wednesday and sometimes during the week.
As she now celebrates the gift of life in her ninth decade, Queen Rosemary St. Cyr Smith cherishes most her roles as the matriarch of a large, proud, and devoted family—a loving mother, supportive grandmother and great-grandmother, and compassionate friend to all.
In honor of her outstanding legacy as a caring educator who recognized and encouraged students to exceed beyond expectations, her family has launched The Rose of Promise Foundation, which was announced at the birthday celebration, to award college scholarships to deserving, but under-resourced, students in the Greater Houston Community whose potential to succeed may fall outside traditional academic criteria. The enhanced educational opportunities provided through the Foundation will optimize the city’s base of productive citizens in the enduring tradition of Queen Rosemary St. Cyr Smith.