Obituary: Eleanor Smith

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On Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, Eleanor Frances Smith, beloved mother and grandmother, died at age 96 in her home in Malibu. She is survived by her seven children: Howard, Kathy, Paul, Stephen and Philip Smith; Deborah Berkeley; and Beth Morgan. She also leaves behind nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. 

Eleanor was born in Sommerville, Mass., on Jan. 24, 1924, to parents William and Lydia Haynes, and was raised in the Boston area. She excelled in school and graduated from Watertown High in 1941 with dreams of pursuing higher education. She earned a B.S. degree from Emmanuel College in 1945, majoring in chemistry with a minor in Latin, and went on to earn her M.D. at Tufts University. 

Eleanor met her future husband, Howard Smith, in 1941. Howard served in WWII on the USS Iowa from 1943 until the end of the war. They were married in 1948 and had their first two children during the post-war years. In 1954, Eleanor earned a Master’s degree in public health from Harvard University. After graduating, she taught medical economics at Harvard.  The following years brought another five children to the family, and during this time Eleanor served in the Public Health Service in various locations around the country.  

The family moved to Malibu in 1970 when Eleanor was accepted to the doctoral program at the UCLA School of Public Health. In 1973, she earned her PhD in public health and attained rank of captain in the Public Health Service. The death of her husband of 37 years occurred shortly after her retirement in July 1985. 

Post-retirement, Eleanor embraced life with joie de vivre. She took classes in poetry and creative writing, and traveled the world with Elder Hostel, family and friends. 

Eleanor was a devout Catholic who attended mass weekly, and on her dying day was planning how to get to mass on Saturday. As the matriarch of a large clan, Eleanor will be deeply missed by her family and many friends. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to hospice or Our Lady of Malibu Church.