Loved playing Bingo, vacationing on cruises and crocheting

MELROSE — Winny (Vijsel) Smith, a spitfire and “Oma” to so many, passed away peacefully surrounded by the love of her family at her Melrose home on Sunday, April 14. She was 89 years young. 

Winny was born in Surabaya, Indonesia on September 19, 1934, a daughter of the late Andreas H.W. Vijsel and Magaretha (Tielman) Vijsel. Raised and educated in Indonesia, Winny met Paul Smith and they were married in Indonesia in 1954. Winny and Paul were blessed with the birth of their first child, Harry in 1956 and in 1960 made the decision to relocate to Paul’s native country, Holland. Their family grew quickly with the birth of Ingrid and Patrick. With three young children, Winny and Paul made the courageous and brave decision to move to the United States in 1960 with hopes of following the “American Dream.” From humble beginnings, the family eventually made their way to Melrose and while not always easy, established roots through determination, strength of will and above all, a great sense of humor. 

Winny raised her three children with boundless enthusiasm, a sharp tongue and endless affection. To say she never met a stranger, just a friend she hadn’t met is an understatement for Winny. With open arms and unconditional love, Winny was known by friends, family and neighbors as “Oma” or “Omie” as a testament to the biggest of hearts. She often showered visitors with as much food as love and there was always a lot of food. 

In her free time, Winny was all in for the thrill of playing Bingo, going to the casinos and gambling. She always found an opportunity to laugh, make a (sometimes) off color comment and surprise everyone with a one liner. She loved hosting friends and family for “deck parties” at their longtime Melrose home for laughter, a home cooked meal and good cheer. She enjoyed rooting loudly for the Bruins, Patriots and Red Sox and was never far from her feline companion Jojo. She also loved vacationing with husband Paul on cruises and spent time knitting, crocheting and when visiting Harry in NY, fishing.  

With a strong backbone and stubborn streak, Winny was as strong as she was loving. Her impact transcended generations as she adopted friends as family and nurtured countless as a loving matriarch. Among those she counted as “sisters” were Nida Llewellyn and Noreen Dunn and her husband Gene who were loved as family by Winny. She will be deeply and sorely missed, but her spunky energy, bottomless love and loyalty to family will be her lasting legacy and will continue to inspire future generations. May she rest in eternal peace.

Winny was the beloved wife of the late Paul Smith with whom she proudly shared 52 years. Devoted mother of Harold “Harry” Long and his wife Brenda of Peru, NY; Ingrid Long and her husband Jim of Melrose; and the late Patrick Smith. Dear sister of Maria “Oetje” Kappers and Jean Vijsel, both of the Netherlands; and the late Albert Vijsel, Irene Velthuis and Albertine “Tine” Vanelten. Cherished grandmother of Heather Lavigne and her husband Josh;, James Long; Brandon Long and his wife Carrie; Tiffany Crosby and her husband Andy; Kayla Smith; and Jeffrey Smith. Loving great-grandmother of Sarah, Wyatt, Keegan, Kalib, Kayden and Patrick. Also survived by many nieces and nephews. 

Relatives and friends were respectfully invited to gather in honor of Winny’s life during visiting hours at the Robinson Funeral Home, 809 Main St., Melrose on Friday, April 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. followed by her funeral service celebrated at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Winny were made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, PO Box 1999, Memphis, TN 38101 or Green Street Baptist Church, 179 Green St., Melrose, MA 02176, the charity of your choice.  For online tribute, please visit