Murdered Malibu worker remembered during holidays

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Gail Smith

A fund to help Ogden Cleaner’s employee Gail Smith’s family has brought in more than $30,000.

By Vicki Godal/Special to The Malibu Times

Two months ago, the Malibu community united in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Gail Smith, a well-known employee of Ogden Cleaners in the Malibu Colony Plaza. Affectionately known as the “Mayor of Malibu,” Smith, 53, was shot in the head by her nephew Jamal Flowers, 22, after an argument in Smith’s Los Angeles apartment. According to police, Flowers next shot Smith’s daughter, Denise Clark, three times as she threw herself over her child when Flowers turned to shoot the 5 year old. Flowers then killed himself.

At a local hospital, Smith was pronounced dead. Clark was in critical condition and in surgery.

Malibu residents Budge and Brenda Offer took action, setting up a fund utilizing donations to cover the family’s funeral expenses as well as the emergency hospitalization of Denise Clark.

“Originally, we set up the Gail Smith Memorial Fund to raise money for the funeral and hospital expenses,” Offer explained. “But a government agency paid for the funeral costs and Medical paid for the hospital expenses. So we decided to give the money to Gail’s family, her daughter, Denise, and her two grandchildren, Brendan and Brianna.”

Offer told The Malibu Times 250 people donated more than $30,000 to the Gail Smith Memorial Fund. Set up through the Bank of America in Malibu, with the help of local attorney Richard Scott, the fund will release the money to the family according to the following schedule: $7,500 in one sum will be paid to Denise Clark and $8,000 will be paid to her over a 10-month period. Smith’s grandchildren, Brendan, 9, and Brianna, 5, will each receive $7,500 when they reach the age of 18, plus accumulated interest from a custodial account .

Maria D’Angelo is co-signer for the children’s custodial fund. D’Angelo visited the family on Thanksgiving Day and said Clark is physically healing, but emotional scars can take a long time and the holidays will be hard.

“I hope people will continue to give to the Memorial Fund to honor Gail’s memory and assist her family,” D’Angelo said. “We at the foundation intend to set up a scholarship in her name as well as continuing to give to the Memorial Fund.

“Gail was an extraordinary woman. She gave so much to this community.”

As founder of the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation, a nonprofit organization where Smith frequently volunteered, D’Angelo knew Smith and her family well. When Smith needed surgery, D’Angelo helped with financial arrangements through the foundation to cover her surgery and recuperation time. After Smith healed, she began to volunteer and fundraise for the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation. According to D’Angelo, Smith raised thousands of dollars for the organization.

D’Angelo said Smith had her daughter and grandchildren living in her apartment. This enabled Clark to work part time and be home for her children. Smith also paid for both her grandchildren to attend private school. Meanwhile, Smith rode two buses to get to her Ogden Cleaner’s job because “Malibu people were nice to her.”

The Malibu community proved the feelings were mutual when hundreds showed up for Smith’s memorial service conducted by the Vineyard Christian Fellowship on Oct. 6. Afterward, a private funeral at sea took place for the family and a few close friends, including D’Angelo.

“I say this and I know the community (Malibu) resonates with this statement, Gail was an elegant angel. She treated everyone with the same love, respect and affection,” D’Angelo said. “She truly touched the lives of those who knew her.”

Clark spoke to The Malibu Times about how her family is doing after the loss of her mother and her surgery.

“It’s been hard, really hard,” Clark said. “We miss my mother very much, especially on Thursdays and Sundays, her days off, when she made the kids a big breakfast. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and donations.”

D’Angelo remembers Smith attending holiday dinners given for the organization’s adopted families. “She brought a lot of people joy.”

During this month’s holiday dinners, which will take place at local elementary schools and hosted by the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation, Clark and her children will attend to keep alive the memory and honor of Smith.

For more information concerning the Gail Smith Memorial Fund at the Malibu Bank of America or the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation, contact Maria D’Angelo at 310.457.6166, www.childrenslifesaving.org or maria@www.childrenslifesaving.org.