Dr. Helen Smith
Evansville, Ind. — Dr. Helen Smith died peacefully in the arms of loving family October 16, 2010 at the home of her daughter, Nan Smith Scranton, in Colorado Springs, Colorado where she had lived since 2003.
She was preceded in death by her husband and best friend, Edwin Perry Smith, grandsons Austin Perry Caldemeyer; her father and mother Arthur Blaine Curtis and Charlotte Larsen Curtis, and siblings Roland Curtis, Arthur Curtis, Monetta Curtis Lange, and Kermit Quintin Curtis.
SHE IS SURVIVED BY ALL OF HER CHILDREN, JEFFREY WORTH SMITH, SAMUEL HEDGEMAN SMITH, JANE PERRY ALLEN, NAN RUSSELL SMITH SCRANTON, and JERD ELIZABETH CHAMBERS, as well as 14 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
Helen Elizabeth was born June 18, 1916 in Oceola, IN to Arthur Blaine Curtis and Charlotte Victoria Wilhemina Larson. After attending k thru 12 in Osceola, Indiana, she graduated in 1941 from the Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing and Hygiene with a diploma in Nursing, becoming one of the nationally renowned 'Ford' nurses. During her attendance there, she lived at the Clara Ford Nurses Home. It was in Detroit that she and Edwin met and married in 1942. Shortly thereafter, she joined the troops, with Edwin, to support our country in World War II, serving as a First Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps in the Asian Pacific Theatre Campaign with General MacArthur's Army in the Pacific until 1946 when she and Edwin, were honorably discharged.
Helen and Edwin returned to Evansville for a period of time, and then moved to Champaigne, Illinois where they attended the University of Illinois, graduating in 1950, both with Bachelor's Degrees, her's in Nursing, his his in Business. Upon their return to Evansville, Helen worked at Deaconess Hospital and, Welborn Hospital and became a faculty member at the fledging Evansville School of Nursing under Dr. Mildred Boeke's administration. With the support and encouragement of Dr. Boeke, Helen went back to Detroit to attend Wayne State University where she obtained a Masters Degree in Nursing in 1960, graduating with honors. In 1963, Helen, again with the support of both Edwin and Dr. Boeke, went with her five children to Bloomington, Indiana, where she attended Indiana University and obtained her Doctorate in Higher Education. Helen was the first female to successfully complete the program and was awarded her doctorate in 1965. In achieving this accomplishment she in fact had become "the educated lady" her mother always wanted her to be.
Helen was passionate about Nursing and Education in every respect. She was truly a 'Ford' nurse, dedicated to excellence. At the University of Evansville, she rose to become the second Dean of the School of Nursing in 1968. True to her own education at the Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing and Hygiene, she strived to provided nursing students with a challenging, but excellent education that demanded adherence to high academic, moral and personal standards. She earned a reputation for excellence. Students from around the world sought a nursing degree from the University of Evansville and upon graduation were actively recruited. Just as the 'Ford' nurses were respected nationally for their excellence, so it became for the University of Evansville nurses and those in related health sciences professions under her tenure. Helen retired from the University of Evansville in 1984, however, this lady of grace and charm, she never retired from her continued quest to passionately pursue her with a passion high ideals for service to her community and others and care for those in need.
Please join us for a Remembrance and Celebration service service on Saturday June 18th, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 609 SE Second St, Evansville. A reception will follow the service to celebrate her remarkable 94 year journey.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Dr. Helen C. and Edwin P. Smith Scholarship Fund at the University of Evansville.
"This scholarship shall be awarded to a female minority student who is majoring in the health professions with a preference given to nursing majors."
Published in Courier Press on May 29, 2011.