Diana Lanier Smith

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SMITH, DIANE LANIER Diana Lanier Smith, 90, of Jamestown, RI, passed away on January 22, 2013 in North Branford, CT after a brief illness. Born in New York City to the late Reginald Bishop Lanier and Helen Cameron Lanier, Diana grew up in New York, Bernardsville, NJ and Newport, RI. She graduated from Barnard College, New York, NY in 1945. She married William Ogden Ross in 1947, moved to New Haven, CT, and together they had three sons - Donald Ogden Ross of Newport, RI, Philip Lanier Ross of North Haven, CT and Stuart Cameron Ross of Katonah, NY. While in New Haven, Diana worked for several years at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History where she was Director of Public Relations and Editor of the Peabody Museum Magazine. She was also a long-time member of the New Haven Lawn Club and the Garden Club of New Haven. Following a divorce from Mr. Ross, Diana married Karl Beckwith Smith, Jr. in 1973, and together they lived in Jamestown, RI and in Sanibel, FL until Mr. Smith passed away in 2006. In recent years Diana divided her time between Jamestown and the retirement community of Evergreen Woods in North Branford, CT. From her early 20's Diana was plagued by an increasingly debilitating hearing disorder, but she always demonstrated a deep intellectual curiosity, especially for understanding her ancestry and their contributions to American history. For many years, she served on the Board of Trustees of the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site in Madison, IN, built by her great-great grandfather, James F.D. Lanier, a 19th century American financier and founder in the 1840's of Winslow, Lanier & Co., the first modern investment banking firm in the United States. Diana also played a central role in restoring the Bishop Jades, donated by her great grandfather Heber R. Bishop and considered the finest collection of Chinese jade in the world, to prominent display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A long-time student of Native American cultures, particularly those of the American Southwest, in 2004, she endowed a scholarship for undergraduates of Native American descent at her alma mater Barnard College. She leaves her three sons, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her brothers Charles Lanier and James F.D. Lanier III. Diana will be interred in the Lanier Family plot in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY in a private ceremony. A memorial service is planned for June in Jamestown, RI. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Diana Lanier Smith '45 Scholarship Fund at Barnard College, New York, NY.

Published in The New Haven Register on Jan. 23, 2013