Saturday, March 16, 2013
North Augusta said goodbye to one of its best-known community members Monday afternoon, with the passing of Ellen Smith, 95.
She received a degree from Kansas State in 1940, joined Fairview Presbyterian Church in April of 1952 and became the first woman elected to North Augusta City Council in May 1971. She served until May 1989, with a break in service from 1983 to 1985.
During her time as a Council member, Smith served with mayors Raymond Walters, Hank McKenney, Kim Ledford and Tom Greene. Smith also served with City administrators Carey Smith and Charles Martin.
Smith was also instrumental in the development of Riverview Park and Riverview Park Activities Center, and, because of her achievements and contributions to parks and recreation, she earned a place in the North Augusta Sports Hall of Fame.
Bob Brooks, retired director of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services, said that Smith was the "most recreational supporter on the council at that time ... very instrumental in the beautification of North Augusta" and the "most enjoyable person to be around."
Longtime friend Lyn Fleming called her "a fun-loving person who gave to her church and her community."
She also noted that Smith "reached out to people all over the world," including participating in the Christmas International program. The program let "college students who couldn't go back to their country" during the holidays stay at her home, Fleming said.
One of Smith's most memorable moments, according to her family and friends, was when she jumped out of an airplane for a tandem sky-dive when she was 85 and how she went down the Colorado River with a broken arm, at age 80.
In the words of City Councilman Arthur Shealy, "North Augusta has lost a true gem."