GREENFIELD - Elizabeth "Rusti" (Haller) Smith passed away peacefully on Thursday (3-21-13), just a few days short of her 97th birthday. She had spent the last years of her life in New England, living with her grandson Gabe McGuigan, her daughter ML Magrath, and then at Charlene Manor Extended Care Facility in Greenfield, where she enjoyed many special friendships with staff and other residents.
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She was born in Chicago, Ill., on March 24, 1916 to Mary Woodhull Haller and Louis Patterson Haller. Her dark red hair was the source of her nickname "Rusti." She attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, later transferring to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She earned a master's degree in social work from Northwestern University and worked as a social worker for many agencies, including Hull House in Chicago.
She was also a talented dancer and singer and played the piano.
She was married to Gilbert Smith in 1941, while he was serving as a special agent for the FBI. The first years of their marriage were spent in San Francisco, CA, and later in Chicago, Illinois. After the war, Gilbert entered the field of banking which led to his lifelong career as a trust officer and estate planner, while Elizabeth raised their two children, Mary Lou and Eugenia, and continued to be active in community affairs. She returned to work when her children were older, and spent most of her career years in family services in Chicago.
The Smiths retired to Florida, and later to North Carolina. Gilbert died in 2006, and Elizabeth recently moved to Vermont and Massachusetts to be with her family.
She is survived by her daughter, ML Magrath; sons-in-law, Michael Magrath and Robert McGuigan; her grandchildren, Gabriel McGuigan and his fiancée Jill Doody, Abigail McGuigan, Victoria (Johns) Ortiz and her husband Miguel Ortiz, and Lisa (Johns) Najera and her husband Chris Najera, and her great-grandchildren, Dylan and Dante Ortiz and Benjamin Gilbert McGuigan. She leaves many friends and relatives across the country, and her beloved Scottish fold cat, Robbi, who is now living with ML Magrath.
Her daughter, Eugenia Johns, predeceased her.
At Rusti's request, there will be no funeral. The family will have a private memorial service at a later time. Arrangements are by Smith-Kelleher Funeral Home in Greenfield. Friends are invited to share messages and memories at the Smith-Kelleher website.
Published in The Recorder from Mar. 23 to Mar. 24, 2013