At the age of 94, Dr. Gwen Smith could certainly be forgiven for slowing down a little. But that’s the one thing this life-long educator, philanthropist and community volunteer just can’t seem to do.
“She is one tough lady to whom many of us look when we need an example of courage, grace, and an opinion,” Narvaiz said of Smith. “She will give it to you whether you want it or not.”
Smith shares a few of those opinions — and a lifetime of memories — in “Voices of Hays County History,” an oral history produced by the Hays County Historical Commission (HCHC).
The video will be screened for the first time Thursday, Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Price Seniors Center, located at 222 West San Antonio Street. The event is free and open to the public.
In the oral history, Smith talks about growing up in San Marcos, where she graduated from San Marcos High School in 1933. She also reflects on her days at Southwest Texas State Normal School, where she received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, and describes her experience as a teacher of physical education in the San Marcos public schools.
Among other topics Smith touches on in the video are the cotton gin business that her father, Oscar C. Smith, started here in town in 1909; what San Marcos was like during the World War II years; and some of her community involvements since retiring in 1979 after a 33-year university teaching career.
Smith has seen many changes in her hometown through the years and has helped bring about many of those changes. She was instrumental in developing Sights and Sounds of San Marcos, Summer in the Park, the River Foundation, the Main Street Program, the Wetlands Walk at Aquarena and the reading room at the public library. She has served on countless committees and boards, from the Historical Preservation Committee to the San Marcos Education Foundation to the Greater San Marcos Area Seniors Association. She is also a former member of the Hays County Historical Commission.
Smith’s oral history is the fourth in the “Voices” series, an ongoing project of the HCHC. The video was filmed and edited by Richard Kidd, director of the HCHC Documentary Film Unit. Oral history committee chair Bonnie Eissler was the sound technician and transcriber. Shelley Henry had the honor of interviewing Smith for the project.
Eight other Hays County residents from San Marcos, Driftwood, Wimberley and Dripping Springs have been interviewed as part of the Voices of Hays County project. Screenings of these videos will be planned in the coming months, and copies of all oral histories will be provided to local libraries. The DVD’s are also available for purchase at all public showings and through the commission’s website.
— SHELLEY HENRYEmail | Print