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'It was a memory that will last a lifetime' | Natalia ISD fan gets surprise visit at her bedside

Eric Smith is the board president of NISD. His mother is a retired educator who has been battling cancer since August.
Credit: Eric Smith

NATALIA, Texas — Update: Trudy Smith passed away Thursday morning.

A retired educator who has spent her life cheering on the sidelines for Natalia ISD athletes had a sweet surprise at a home Wednesday. After decades of showing up for thousands of young athletes, Trudy Smith was the one people were rallying for.

Members of the district's coaching staff along with teen athletes stopped by to pay their respects to Eric Smith's mother, who was diagnosed with cancer in August. Smith, who is the board president of NISD, said his mother was placed on hospice three days ago. He said the gesture was something he will never forget.

"It was a memory that will last a lifetime," Smith said. "My mother and father, Sam and Trudy Smith, are both Natalia grads... Married 49 years and were both athletes for Natalia playing every sport offered back in their time. My mother lives for Natalia athletic events – and has attended what I guess to be well over 3,000 games since the 1960s."

The group sang the Natalia fight song with her as she raised the #1 finger, Smith said. They snapped a picture together to preserve the special moment.

"The Smith family could never say enough about the character of the Natalia ISD coaching staff and our athletes. We are forever grateful," Smith said.

In a post on Twitter, Smith said:

"You made my mother who is in her final days- feel super special today! You went above and beyond to encourage someone who has cheered on Natalia since the 1960s. Thank you- Thank you- Thank you"