Esther Lyneille Smith Van Soelen, 86, of Clovis, New Mexico, passed away on May 14, 2014. |
She was born in Clovis on April 4, 1928 to Samuel "Otto" Smith and Eva Burge Smith. She married Theodore "Ted" Van Soelen, Jr. on October 25, 1969. Ted and Esther raised four children.
A life-long resident of Clovis, Esther graduated from Clovis High School in 1946. An exceptional student with a passion for learning, she received an Associate of Arts degree from Cottey College, in 1948. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, with a Bachelor of Arts in 1949, and with a L.L.B. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1951. She also received a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology in 1976, and Master of Arts in Religion in 1992 from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. She passed on her knowledge by teaching courses at Clovis Community College for many years.
Upon completion of her law degree, Esther returned to her hometown and became the first female lawyer in Clovis and a well-respected member of the legal community. Originally practicing with her father, she later practiced both on her own and with various other attorneys. Hal Grieg and David Richards were her partners in Van Soelen, Greig & Richards, P.A. at the time of her retirement in 2001.
Although Esther practiced law in Clovis for almost 50 years, her faith and her family were her priorities. A member of Clovis' First United Methodist Church for over 70 years, Esther served for many years on leadership committees, taught Sunday school for more than 40 years, and made countless cups of Sunday morning Kool-Aid for the children of FUMC-Clovis. She also served the United Methodist church extensively at both the District and Conference levels.
Esther's membership in PEO for nearly 70 years was very meaningful to her. She also enjoyed her many years of involvement with the Rancher's Camp Meeting Association of the Southwest, the Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails, CHS Band Boosters, and ENMRSH-ARC.
Esther believed strongly in the value of education, and this belief led her and her husband to sponsor two students from Bosnia, Selma Catovic Hughes and Alena Causevic Raymond, young women who became members of the extended Van Soelen family.
Esther was preceded in death by her parents, Otto and Eva Smith, her devoted husband Ted, and her beloved brother Darrell Otto Smith. She is survived by her daughter Marian Hand and son-in-law Todd Hand of Albuquerque, her daughter Beverly Van Soelen and son-in-law LTC Robert McCauley USA-Ret. of Bettendorf, IA, her son the Hon. Fred Van Soelen and daughter-in-law Erin Sumrall Van Soelen of Clovis, and her son Darrell Van Soelen and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Doty Van Soelen of Las Cruces. She is also survived by her grandchildren Jake and Thea Hand of Albuquerque; James, Myles and Caroline McCauley of Bettendorf, Iowa; America, Silver and Asa Van Soelen of Clovis; and Sophia Van Soelen of Las Cruces.
Funeral services will be held at 10am on Monday, May 19, 2014, at First United Methodist Church, 1501 Sycamore Street, Clovis, NM with Rev. Keath Baskett Baskett officiating. Burial will follow in the Smith family plot in the original Clovis Cemetery. The family will be at Steed Todd Funeral Home on Sunday, May 18th from 2-4 for viewing. Arrangements are under the direction of Steed Todd Funeral Home 800 E. Manana Clovis, New Mexico 88101 (575) 763-5541 you may also sign the family guest registry at www.steedtodd.com .
Published in the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune from May 17 to May 18, 2014