Cover photo for Elizabeth Jeanette Smith's Obituary
Elizabeth Jeanette Smith Profile Photo

Elizabeth Jeanette Smith

May 3, 1923 — September 30, 2016

Elizabeth Jeanette Smith

E. Jeannette Smith
(May 3, 1923 - Sept. 30, 2016)

On Sept. 30, 2016, E. Jeannette Smith died in the Powell Valley Care Center following several years of declining health.  She was 93.
Jeannette was born on a farm 4 miles east  of Windsor, Colorado, on May 3, 1923.  She was the fourth of five children born to Harrison Valentine Teller and Grace Evans Teller. Raised on a farm, her love of country living only strengthened throughout life.
After graduating from Windsor High School in 1941 as salutatorian, she attended Colorado Women's College for two years on academic scholarships. Discovering she had a knack for foreign languages, she chose to major in Political Science and minor in Spanish, German and Education at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
She graduated from CU in the spring of 1945 and was hired to teach Spanish and history at Powell High School.  She immersed herself in the school's extracurricular activities, creating a Spanish and Debate Club and directing the junior and senior class play. She served as an adviser to the student newspaper, the PowWow, when it won the All-State and All-American honors in 1953 and 1954. In 1953, she instituted Wyoming's first-ever Spanish program in grade school and junior high. The course material was written under the supervision of the Spanish Department at the University of Colorado and was later published in the Journal of the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers.
During her second year of teaching, she met a farmer-rancher from Powell named Galen Richard (Dick) Smith. Jeannette and Dick fell in love and were married on Dec. 28, 1947, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The two began life together on Dick's family farm northeast of Powell where they raised sheep, cattle and horses and grew sugar beets, barley, corn and alfalfa. In December of 1948, they welcomed their first son, Warren Frederick, followed by a second son in 1955, Spencer Richard, and a third son in 1960, Regan Ryan.
Jeannette began teaching Spanish part-time at Northwest College (NWC) in 1962. After receiving her Master's Degree in Spanish from Middlebury College in Vermont, she became chairman of the NWC Humanities Division in 1966, serving for 14 years. During that time, she started the college's Phi Theta Kappa honor society; chaired the first NWC Foreign Language Festival for 10 years; served as adviser to the student newspaper, The Trail; taught the first journalism classes on campus; and directed the school's inaugural study tour of Mexico. Throughout her many years of service, Jeannette never tired of watching students discover the subject matters she so loved.
An enthusiast for both teaching and learning, Jeannette continued her own studies during trips to Mexico, Ecuador and Peru. She took a leave of absence from NWC in 1971 to attend the Universidad de Sevilla in Spain, later traveling through Portugal and Northern Europe. In 1977, she took a sabbatical and traveled from the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico through each Central American country, ending in Panama. She then attended the Universidad de Costa Rica in San Jose.
Throughout her life and career, Jeannette put her bilingual skills to work in the service of local community members. She served as a volunteer interpreter, helping countless Spanish-speaking immigrants to complete the requirements for legal residence or citizenship, and assisting families in their efforts to assimilate to the U.S. and learn English.
After 40 years, Jeannette retired from the classroom in 1985 with the rank of Professor in Spanish.   In retirement, she was granted the rank of Professor Emerita at NWC.
She returned to education in 1988 as a member of the Board of Trustees for School District No. 1 and served eight years. In 1989, she was honored to be the second recipient of the Powell High School Alumni Association's Honorary Alumni Award for her decades-long dedication to Wyoming students.  She also received the Wyoming School Board's Golden Bell Award in 1998.
Jeannette was a member of the following college honorary societies: Phi Theta Kappa, Delta Phi Alpha, Phi Sigma Iota and Kappa Delta Pi.  She was Vice President of the Wyoming High School Press Association (l954-55), President of the Wyoming Foreign Language Teachers Association (1961-62) and Council Member for the Wyoming Foreign Language Teachers Association.
Mrs. Smith was an avid traveler.  In addition to visiting all 50 U.S. states, she traveled to nearly every continent and Spanish-speaking country in the world. She loved sharing her passion for new adventures with her students and grandchildren, often taking them with her to explore a new corner of the globe.
She was an active member and Elder in the Union Presbyterian Church, in addition to serving as the first editor of the church's newsletter in 1959. She was also a member of the P.E.O. and longtime member of Eastern Star. An avid bridge player for most of her life, Jeannette could often be found with members of the Powell Bridge Club.  She enjoyed riding horses, pack trips in the Wyoming wilderness and dancing.
Jeannette was preceded in death by her husband, her parents and three of her siblings.
She is survived by her brother, Floyd Teller of Huntsville, Alabama; her brother-in-law, Denny (Janet) Smith of Kent, Washington; her sister-in-law, Shirley Smith of Powell; her three sons, Warren (Barbara) Smith of Fairbanks, Alaska, Spencer (Laurie) Smith of Powell and Regan (Wendy) Smith of Powell; and her eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. She also leaves many nieces and nephews.
The memorial service for Jeannette will be held on Nov. 26 at the Union Presbyterian Church. Memorial donations can be made to the Northwest College Foundation or a charity of your choice. Thompson Funeral Home is handling arrangements, and condolences may be sent online at www.thompsonfuneral.net or to P.O. Box 807, Powell, WY 82435.

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