Rev. James Gall described Ellen Smith at the celebration of her life on Wednesday, June 6. The first thing that came to mind was that she was always working.
To that he added always cooking, always volunteering, always organizing, always smiling, always continuing. And that is how everyone remembers Ellen.
When she died suddenly on Wednesday, May 30, the reaction was one of shock at a death so unexpected. People thought back to the last time they had seen her at a Ute Trials Car Show, the Paonia Teen Center or the BMW Rally.
Ellen Smith was a teacher for 30 years. After retirement in 1965 she was asked by the school district to teach special education classes. The classes were just being introduced in Delta County. She worked on her masters degree to accomplish the task. Rev. Gall said Smith was ahead of her time in teaching special education classes. She taught students age six to 16 altogether like in an old-time one-room schoolhouse. "She said it's a matter of finding alternative methods to teach kids," Rev. Gall said. The rest of the state would follow with special education classes in 1975.
Ellen was an active member in every organization she joined, Gall said. She was a member of the Ute Trails Car Club, Western Slope Antique Engine Club, Paonia Garden Club, local co-ordinator of the BMW Rally and the Colorado Grand, organizer and operator of the Paonia Teen Center, the Paonia Booster Club, American Legion Auxiliary, Cherry Days, a retired teachers group, a sorority, the impressive list went on. Gall concluded she was a cook, caterer and innovator.
Paonia Mayor Neal Schwieterman announced that the Town of Paonia had been approached in May to rename the teen center to the Ellen Hansen Smith Center. It was on the agenda for the May 22 council meeting, but the meeting was cancelled due to a slim agenda. So, after checking with town attorney Jim Briscoe, he made an official proclamation renaming the center in her honor. The original community petition for the re-naming came from Paonia Elementary School.
Rene Atchley said, "God must have needed a new cook. So Ellen went ahead to organize." She worked with Ellen for 15 years and said Ellen must have had Energizer batteries in her body during the Beemers' Rally. Ellen would have gravy already made by 5 a.m., and coffee ready for the next day by 9 p.m. Ellen organized the annual Easter Egg hunt. Her fingers would be raw from twisting plastic eggs to fill with goodies for the kids.
Ellen Smith was 75 years old when she died.
Her family requests memorial contributions be made to the Ellen Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Delta County Federal Credit Union.blog comments powered by Disqus