San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 15th, 2010
Civic leader Smith dies at 94


San Marcos civic leader Gwen Smith, who helped launch numerous local traditions and institutions in the last 30 years, died on April 10 at her home in the San Marcos Historical District. She was 94.

Smith was among the founders of the city’s first historical preservation commission, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos, Friends of the San Marcos Cemetery, the San Marcos Performing Arts Association, Summer in the Park and Sights and Sounds of Christmas.

Among Smith’s works for the city government were her services on the Main Street Advisory Board, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), the Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals, and the San Marcos Cemetery Commission. Smith also served on the Aquarena Advisory Committee, the San Marcos CISD Education Foundation Board, the Central Texas Higher Education Authority Board, the Texas State University Development Foundation Board and the Texas State Friends of Fine Arts Board.

Smith was active with the Greater San Marcos Area Seniors Association and the Price Seniors Center. She created a scholarship fund to benefit dance students at Texas State. She worked on many Heritage Association fundraisers, especially focusing on the River Walk, park beautification, long-range planning and the preservation and beautification of Veramendi Plaza. Smith co-chaired the San Marcos Bicentennial and Sesquicentennial Commissions, the latter leading to the development of the San Marcos River Foundation.

By the time Smith began doing all this public spirited work in San Marcos, she was 65 years old, having retired from a 33-year career as a professor of dance and sports at Illinois State University. Returning to San Marcos, where she was born on Sept. 8, 1915, Smith launched her life of local public service.

Smith received two degrees from Texas State, then spent eight years as a physical education teacher in San Marcos public schools. On receiving her PhD from the University of Iowa, she moved on to Illinois State in 1946 and spent her next 33 years there.

Funeral services were held Wednesday at Pennington Memorial Chapel, with burial following.

Friends are encouraged to make memorial gifts in Smith’s honor to Price Seniors Center, 222 West San Antonio Street, San Marcos, TX 78666, or to the organization or charity of their choice.

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