Shirley Smith
Share Shirley's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Shirley Janet Smith BRENTWOOD, MO - Shirley Janet Smith, Ph.D., of Brentwood, Mo. and Springfield, IL, passed away Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. Shirley was born on February 24, 1929 in Springfield, IL, the daughter of the late Gladys Kaylor Smith and Richard J. Smith. A 1946 graduate of Springfield High School, Shirley received her Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Illinois and went on to be the first woman to receive an advanced degree from the U of I School of Mechanical Engineering in gas dynamics. She received her Doctor of Science degree in 1974 from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. A phenomenal woman, Shirley's early career began in the 1950s as a Senior Scientist for Rocket Dyne/North American Aviation in California, where she worked in pioneering the creation of solid rocket fuel for the first reliable Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and the early Space Program. As a civilian employee for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, she served as an Expert Scientist in developing the process of reverse osmosis for large portable water treatment systems for the military. She taught classes for Washington University in St. Louis. Her later career was spent as a project manager for the Department of the Army, U.S. Army Aviation and Troop Command, from where she retired in September 1994. After WWII, Shirley joined other youth to bicycle throughout war-torn Europe, including what would later become East-Bloc countries. She was a passionate supporter of Girl Scouts and Mariners, the Sierra Club, and a variety of other organizations related to her wide set of interests including her lifelong love of hiking, camping, canoeing, sailing, and all things related to exploring. Raised in the Methodist Church, Shirley was affiliated with several churches. Preceded in death by her parents, brother Alan R. Smith, and several cousins, Shirley is survived by many cousins who loved and treasured her and whom she loved dearly. From her mother's side, they include as follows: Olivette Kukuk, Sonya (Tom) Murphy, Bonnie (Ed) Niccolls, Dianne Barghouti Hardwick (fiancé Tom Headen), Mark (Kathy) Murphy, Denise (Pat) Mackie, Barry (Shaun) Tobias, Patsy (Gary) Klekamp, Richard (Sandy) Murphy, Michelle (Rick) Bahr, Tim (Bobbi) Murphy, Trisha (Umberto) Lopez, Nadia (Jeff) Armsworth, Ramsey Barghouti. From her father's side, she is survived by Gail (Ken) Vorderstrase, Dave Johnson, Donna (Chuck) Kunz, Debbie (Larry) Licata, and Drew (Susie) Johnson. Visitation will be held at 10 am until the time of service at 11 am on Monday, June 6, 2011 at Bisch and Son Funeral home at 505 E. Allen in Springfield, IL with Reverend John Hamilton officiating. Burial will follow at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. Memorial contributions can be made to the Girl Scouts, Land of Lincoln Council and the Susan G. Komen Association. Please visit the online "Life Remembered Story" at where tributes and condolences may be left for the family.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The State Journal-Register on Jun. 4, 2011.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.