Rita Mary Smith

February 18, 1955March 17, 2016

Rita Smith Obituary Photo(1)Rita Mary Smith was born February 18, 1955 in Wenatchee, Washington to parents Herbert and Rose Mary (Brenner) Smith of Trinidad, Washington.  Rita was the third of four children and grew up in Quincy, Washington.  She graduated from Quincy High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in public recreation from Western Washington University.  Her first job after college was working for the Youth Conservation Corps, where she experienced hiking and working on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains.

Rita later earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from Central Washington University.  She taught in Pocatello, Idaho, then in Sumner, Washington, and finished her career at the Lake Washington School District in Kirkland, Washington.  She began as a Behavior Specialist, joined the Career and Technical Education department as a Transition Specialist, and then became a Program Specialist.  Rita was passionate about career and technical education and creating job opportunities for high school students in the Kirkland and Redmond communities. The Rita Smith Founder Award” was instituted for her creation of Teen CEO, a competition for her students based on “Shark Tank®” involving local business leaders and venture capitalists, complete with cash awards for the winners.   She touched the lives of thousands of students and staff and built strong relationships both in the district and in the community.

Rita enjoyed a lifelong love of swimming and water sports, which led to her first job of lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons at the Quincy Community Pool.  She particularly liked river floating with her Youth Conservation Corps friends, and spending part of each summer at Lake Chelan.  She also enjoyed traveling both for work and pleasure.  After being diagnosed twelve years ago, Rita became active in the fight against ovarian cancer.  She raised approximately $60,000 for ovarian cancer research through over 150 baskets she organized for the Marsha Rivkin Ovarian Cancer auction each fall for 11 years.  She received the “courage of life” award for fight against cancer and related contributions to research and assisting others in coping with and fighting cancer, in a special tribute at the Rivkin auction last November.

Rita leaves behind two sisters and one brother, Barbara Hairston (James) of Lakewood, Peggy White (Ed) of Seattle, and Mike Smith (Sonia) of Shoreline.  She also leaves behind four nieces and three nephews, two great-nieces, and two great-nephews, as well as countless life-long friends.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday 11 April at 11:00 at Holy Family Catholic Church in Kirkland, Washington.  Burial will take place in Quincy, Washington on April 12 at 11:00.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Marsha Rivkin Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

5 Responses to “Rita Mary Smith”

  • Mary Rutherford says:

    I too lived in Quincy as a child. I may have seen this woman at GrassLlawn Park in Redmond which is close to Kirkland/Bridal Trails with her dog many times. Can anybody indicate that this may have been Rita?

  • Yvonne Hines says:

    Rita was one of my supervisors in the Lake Washington School District for many years. As a Career Specialist we worked together to promote student success. Rita put her heart into helping students excel in career and college planning. Students at every level of learning were included in her programs. I’m sure she cared for students more than herself. I am so thankful for educators like Rita who have made a difference in many many lives. Thanks you Rita for the footprints that you left behind. God bless her family.
    Yvonne Hines

  • Tony Volchok says:

    Dear Peggy and Smith Family,
    I am so sorry to see this tonight. Although I hadnt seen her in years, I had talked to her not so long ago and thru the years. I remember her fondly when she lived on Cedar Street in Bellingham during our Western years. She was a very likable person and will be missed. My prayers go out to all of you for your loss.

  • jay gale says:

    I served on advisory boards with Rita and she was the one that got me into teaching high school in 2004. Always supportive and always having the right solution to any problem, she was a joy to work with and I was honored to call her my friend.

    prayers outbound for the family.

  • Sandra Matthews says:

    My heart goes out to Rita’s family. Rita & I taught together in Idaho. We became lifelong friends. Rita was a special friend to our family. I miss her every day & I will forever.

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