Port Huron — The cremated remains of a 79-year-old homeless woman killed in a hit-and-run in September have been buried beside her mother in Port Huron following a months-long effort to identify her and pay for her burial.

A service for Eleanor Denise Smith was held Wednesday at Mount Sinai Cemetery in Port Huron. More than a dozen people, all of them strangers to Smith, gathered around the gravesite for the burial, the Times Herald reported.

“While there may not be any family here representing Eleanor Denise Smith, we are her family today,” Rabbi Jason Miller said during the committal ceremony.

Smith died at a hospital. She had identification in her belongings, but without confirmation from a family member, investigators couldn’t positively identify her. A chest X-ray from San Francisco that belonged to Smith was found in late November, providing a positive identification.

The identity of the driver responsible for Smith’s death is unknown and police are asking for tips from the public.

Smith’s remains were given to a Mount Clemens funeral home in January and cremated. A fundraising campaign was launched in February to bury her with her mother. Michael Kolb, a funeral director who launched the campaign, said $2,880 was raised.

“To see that happen to a homeless woman who may have had a very difficult time and many struggles during her lifetime . I felt like Eleanor of all people deserved at least this, for us to say goodbye to her,” Kolb said.

Audrie Friedland, of Port Huron, volunteered to lower Smith’s ashes into the ground.

“It just hits your heart,” Friedland said of Smith’s story.

Kolb said he was heartened by the community response.

“That is what the world should be like, that is how we as a community should be — there to help one another and come out for times like this,” Kolb said.

Read or Share this story: