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Margaret Ann Graves Smith


1928 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
June 20, 1928 - March 27, 2017 Margaret "Bumpy" Smith died Monday, March 27 at the age of 87. Wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and special friend to so many, Margaret lived her life joyously and well. She was born Margaret Ann Graves on June 20, 1928, in Port Angeles, Washington, to Claude and Gladys Graves. She claimed her father thought she "was as cute as a bump on a log", and that was why all her friends called her Bumpy. Margaret lived in northern Washington until she graduated high school and deserted the strawberry fields around her home for Stanford University. She studied elementary education, and graduated in 1949. At Stanford she met the love of her life, a geeky and brilliant engineer named Stephen R. Smith. They married in 1950 and stayed married for the next 67 years. They moved from Stanford to the South Bay so Steve could profit from the aerospace boom, and began establishing a society of friends characterized by three things: engineering (all the husbands, at least), sailing, and children. Margaret had five children: Steve Jr., Susan, Sara, Anne, and Julia. The family moved steadily south, from Hermosa to Hollywood Riviera to Palos Verdes Estates, each move after a new arrival made the old home squeeze too tightly. She sang, she wrote silly poems, and she encouraged her children to be the best they could be. Margaret supported her husband's career, as did so many women of that era. She was his social co-pilot, whether amongst the King Harbor Yacht Club sailing crowd (the Smiths were charter members) or the aerospace managers and executives that were Steve's peers. Margaret loved planning and hosting a good party even more than she enjoyed attending others', and she loved being the center of attention at such affairs. Her anniversary parties became legendary. Once her children grew old enough, Margaret began to yearn for more stimulation. She resumed teaching, building a 20-year career in the Palos Verdes Unified School District as first a kindergarten teacher and culminating in middle school math. When the district had a need, she learned what she needed to fulfill it. Even if it meant getting tutored by her children, all of whom seemed to pick up math much faster and more completely than she could. But Margaret had grit, and when she was determined to learn something, she succeeded. When Steve retired, she did too. She loved to travel, and Steve's career allowed her to indulge. Road trips across the country with little ones sprawled together in the back of the station wagon gave way to European vacations. Steve's three-year assignment in Iran (ending just before the revolution) broadened her horizons further, and led to forays into Africa, China, South America, and even Antarctica. She gave each grandchild a special trip at age 13, one element of a special bond linking them all. Even children who joined the family through marriage were welcomed; no one watching her with her grandchildren could ever doubt her love for all of them. A stroke in 2007 slowed her down but couldn't stop her. Even when accumulated damage cost her unending pain, she maintained her wit and humor until her last fatal illness. Margaret is survived by her husband Steve, her five children, 12 of her grandchildren, 2 step-grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. She was preceded in death by her grandson Brenden Kutler, who is remembered with love. Services will be held at St. Francis Episcopal Church, her religious home for over 50 years, on April 22, 2017 at 11am.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Mar. 31 to Apr. 2, 2017
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