Jaleith Ann Smith '83, a financial analyst, grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where she was born on March 31, 1962. The youngest daughter of Doreen I. and Woodrow N. Smith, a maintenance man for the New York City Transit System, she was graduated from South Shore High School in Brooklyn. Greatly interested in music, she played the saxophone in a concert band and was a pianist and sang in a gospel choir. She also became a youth minister in the Calvary Evangelistic Assembly and preached sermons to children and adults, "all the while doing the normal teenage things, like playing handball."
Jaleith Smith, known as "Jaye," arrived on College Hill in the summer of 1979 to take part in the Higher Education Opportunity Program. She matriculated at Hamilton that fall and made her presence known on campus through her outgoing and upbeat nature, her broad smile, and ability to make people laugh. Formidable on the racquetball court, she was equally dedicated to assisting friends and fellow classmates who might need her help.
Jaye Smith, who concentrated in economics, left the Hill with her diploma in 1983. She moved to Hartford, CT, and went to work for Aetna Insurance Co., where she became a senior financial analyst and underwriter for Aetna US Healthcare. Married to Maurice C. West, she was later assigned to Aetna's Chicago offices, where she continued to excel at her job.
In 1998, after 15 years with Aetna, Jaye Smith was recruited by the Hartford Insurance Group and relocated to Bloomfield, CT, as a single mother with three young sons. Soon thereafter, she became ill with leukemia. While valiantly combating the disease with all her strength, she continued to nurture her children, the oldest of whom was just 4½ at the time.
Jaleith A. Smith was residing in Farmington, CT, and undergoing bone marrow replacement when she died on November 26, 1999, as the College learned only this year. Surviving are her sons, Corey and twins Brandon and Byron, as well as her parents and brothers and sisters, including her sister Gwendolyn, who has been rearing her sons.
Melissa Bedolis Cattanach '84
Melissa Bedolis Cattanach '84, a highly successful fashion publications editor who became vice president of global communications for the Estée Lauder Cos., was born on July 15, 1962, in New York City. The daughter of Robert A., a research director, and Claire Aub Bedolis, a copy editor, she spent most of her childhood in Chappaque, NY, where she was graduated from Horace Greeley High School. She entered Hamilton in 1980 and majored in creative writing and minored in psychology. Besides serving as a tour guide for the Admission Office and copy editor for Roots in the Glen, she stage-managed campus theater productions such as Godspell.
Following her graduation in 1984, Melissa Bedolis entered the field of advertising as a media planning trainee for the Ogilvy & Mather agency. A year later she went to work in the Manhattan office of Leo Burnett, Inc., another large ad agency. There she learned "the ropes" of television commercial production. In 1986, she switched to journalism as an assistant to the managing editor of Harper's Bazaar, followed by a stint as senior editorial copywriter for Mademoiselle magazine.
In 1992, Melissa Bedolis joined Fairchild Publications as Women's Wear Daily's special editions editor. There, according to WWD's current editor-in-chief, Edward Nardoza, she was "a creative, tenacious, disciplined editor who never buckled under the most intense pressure," and one who "brought wit and purpose to the newsroom every day and was instrumental in upgrading the editorial quality of all WWD's numerous special editions." Her writing, editing, and organizational skills led to her appointment in 1994 as editor-in-chief of Salon News, the leading hair industry publication, also put out by Fairchild. She traveled extensively for the magazine, often doing her writing and editing from hotel rooms. With "a keen eye for graphic sophistication and a wonderful intuition for what makes an interesting story," she "drove the publication to record page counts and industry recognition."
Melissa Badolis left Salon News in 1999 to embark on a new career path in corporate communications. She became creative director for Redken, a division of L'Oreal USA. In 2000, she joined another cosmetics firm, the Estée Lauder Cos., as vice president of global communications for Aveda, its hair-care division. On April 30, 2000, she and Evan T. Cattanach, a Scotsman and Scotch whiskey consultant whom Melissa had first met when she interviewed him for an article she was writing on Scotch whiskey, were married in Pound Ridge, NY.
In 2002, Melissa Cattanach moved to Estée Lauder's corporate communications department as vice president for global communications. There she was known for her "fabulous enthusiasm, professionalism, and most of all, her kindness." As an integral part of the Lauder companies' communications team, she took responsibility for expanding its Intranet site, and is credited with being "a driving force in keeping it refreshed and up-to-date." She also played a key role in the companies' breast cancer awareness program.
Melissa Cattanach, who had spent many happy summers at camp in the Canadian woods while a girl, and had become a horseback rider, competing in shows, developed a lifelong fondness for horses. In recent years she also enjoyed accompanying her husband and their young son on visits to Evan's native Scotland as well as on other travels abroad.
Melissa Bedolis Cattanach, a resident of Mount Kisco, NY, and a faithful alumna, died on July 21, 2008, at the age of 46, of complications from a two-year battle with cancer. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her 7-year-old son, Robert Evan Cattanach, and a brother, John A. Bedolis. Funeral services were held at the South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, where speakers paying tribute to her life and achievements, sadly cut short, included Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Cos.