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Claudia A Smith-Hill


1921 - 2018 Obituary
Claudia A Smith-Hill Obituary
Claudia A. Smith-Hill

Claudia Smith, long time member of the Willits community, died Thursday December 19th. With her son, daughters in law and cat at her side she passed away peacefully in the house she had built with her husband nearly 70 years ago.
Born April 28, 1921 in Alameda and raised in Oakland she was an adventurous young woman who was equally at home in the city and at her father's fishing lodge in eastern Shasta County. She was accepted to UC Berkeley and started classes in the fall of 1939 "to spite my father" she often said. As a summer job she waited tables at Forest Lodge in Plumas County and there, in 1940, she met Ken "Bijey" Smith. For the next few years they carried on a long distance relationship while she finished her degree at Cal and Bijey served in the Army Air Corps in the Philippines and Japan. They were married on September 1st 1946 and quickly moved to New Haven Connecticut where Bijey completed his master's degree in forestry at Yale.
Returning to California they camped for nine months on the remote lost coast near the mouth of Jackass Creek at the site that would become the sawmill and town of Wheeler. Bijey with another forester cruised timber and experimented with transporting logs using surplus landing craft while Claudia cooked meals and hiked the canyons and hills. This became a defining adventure that would provide stories and fond memories for the rest of her life.
In 1948 they moved to Willits, built their house on Sherwood Road and began to raise their family.
Claudia was always a journalist at heart and as soon as her youngest child entered school she started as a "stringer" for The Willits News. For the next twenty years she maintained an ever increasing association with the paper until in 1973 when she and Bijey and three other local couples bought it. She had a natural curiosity and interest in people that made her the perfect reporter and editor for a small town paper. The twenty-one years she spent editing and publishing The Willits News were the happiest and most fulfilling of her life. She felt honored to chronicle the times of the community she loved.
After Bijey's death in 1985 she married Richard Hill and retired. Together she and Dick traveled in Europe and spent winters playing golf in Arizona.
Claudia lead an enviable life: fulfilled and loved.
She was preceded by her husband Kenneth, husband Richard, daughter Margaret and son Mark. She is survived by her son Ken and daughter-in-law Rose, grandchildren Seth Smith, Gina Anderson, Sabrina Grillo, and Chris Grillo, stepchildren Steve Hill, Chris Hanzel, Joe Hill, and Cameron Hill.
The family is grateful for the loving care given to Claudia by several care givers especially the tireless attention and love from Catherine Hill.
A celebration of her life will be held on what would have been her 98th birthday, April 28th 2019.
Published in Willits News from Dec. 29, 2018 to Jan. 27, 2019
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