OGDEN — Though she was a newcomer when she arrived in Ogden, those who knew Adele Smith say her desire to help the community during her more than 20 years here was stronger than that of most Junction City natives.
Smith, a former Ogden City councilwoman and longtime Weber County community advocate, died in Hemet, California, last month after suffering complications from COVID-19.
She was 82.
According to her obituary, Smith was born in Chicago and grew up in Phoenix. She graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois, where she was editor of the student newspaper.
In 1959, she married Robert B. Smith, who later went on to become provost at Weber State University. The couple lived in Berkeley, California for a short time after their marriage, but moved to Las Vegas in 1961. In addition to helping to raise three children, Smith was a teacher, newspaper reporter, volunteer director for Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada and member of a semiprofessional chorale, according to her obituary. She was also instrumental in developing Nevada’s first public radio station, KNPR.
She moved to Ogden in 1980 and managed the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce. While at the chamber, she created the Women in Management program, which aimed to give a voice to Ogden businesswomen. Her work with the chamber was formally recognized by Ogden City, when the City Council declared March 26, 1985, Adele Smith Day.
Charles Trentelman, a former reporter and columnist with the Standard-Examiner, knew Smith both socially and professionally. Trentelman said he first met Smith while she was a member of the City Council and he was working for the paper.
“She was just one of those people that was very bright and charismatic and she just had an attitude of ‘OK, let’s get things done,’” Trentelman said. “And she was able to do that. She was singularly responsible for the skate park at Lorin Farr Park. And this was before skateboarding had really taken off. But that was her baby, and she fought for it.”
The skate park is still heavily used today and for a long time was the only such facility in Northern Utah. Smith served two terms on the City Council, first being elected in 1991. In addition to the skate park, she played key roles in preserving Peery’s Egyptian Theater and the Ogden Municipal Building, built in 1924 and 1939, respectively.
Scott Parkinson, former senior vice president of the Bank of Utah and former president of the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce, met Smith through the chamber.
“She was a person that came from outside of the area and just made the community better,” Parkinson said. “I think with certain people, that desire to improve things and contribute to their community is just innate. (Smith) was definitely one of those people.”
Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson served on the City Council a few years after Smith and though he didn’t know her personally, he said her legacy is well-known. Much of that stems from her efforts to build the skate park and preserve the two Ogden landmarks.
Trentelman kept in touch with Smith and her husband after the couple left Ogden in 2001. He said she had been in poor health during the last few years of her life. According to her obituary, she suffered from hereditary hemochromatosis, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a genetic disorder that can cause severe liver disease and other health problems.
A public service was not held for Smith, but according to her obituary, she asked that friends wishing to remember her gather over a bottle of wine and listen to her all-time favorite piece of music: Brahms’s German Requiem.