Obituary: Betty Mallett Smith

Betty Mallett Smith

Betty Mallett Smith, longtime Malibu resident, died on Nov. 23, 2021, at age 96. She was born Dec. 4, 1924, in Tulsa, Okla., to James Laurel Mallett and Eula Gravitt. Betty was a devoted and beloved wife, mother, educator, and Quaker.  

Betty attended William Jewell College in Missouri and Brown University in Rhode Island, receiving bachelor of arts and masters of arts degrees in philosophy respectively. Her talent with spoken language landed her in the leading role of the college’s production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and she also minored in Spanish, becoming fluent. While attending graduate school, she married Myron Chawner Smith. They were married 53 years before he predeceased her, as did their daughter, Shelley. Betty and Myron shared a love of classical music and Betty was a fine pianist who also enjoyed singing. Following a time in Texas and Massachusetts, and raising three children, the family settled in Santa Monica in 1956 and later moved to Malibu.

In 1966, Betty founded Poiesis Seminars, a lifelong project dedicated to leading seminars in mythology from the psychological perspective of C.G. Jung. She taught philosophy from 1963 to 1972 at Santa Monica College, Mt. St. Mary’s College, and California Lutheran University. From 1974 to 1991, Betty taught in the analyst training program of the Los Angeles Jung Institute where she is known for the amplification of Greek myths through her written dialogues. Betty lectured extensively in the West, Southwest, and Southeast with international work in Switzerland, Portugal, and Greece. Her special delight centered on conducting 12 mythology seminar tours to Greece between 1973 and 2007. Select publications include “Loved by a God,” “Conversations in South Pasture,” and a collection of her writings entitled “The Greek Dialogues.” She enjoyed the peace and quiet of her home, reading, reflecting, and sharing the insights of her fertile imagination with friends and family. 

Betty Smith is survived by son Marston and his wife Heidi; daughter Shonti and her husband Charles; six grandchildren; two great grandchildren; and many close relatives, friends, and colleagues.