Verna Smith

Enthusiastic traveler, lifelong learner, loving matriarch

Vera J. Smith, a longtime Claremont resident, died peacefully on September 7, 2013 at the age of 95.

Originally from Woodstock, New Jersey, she first moved to California upon her marriage to Mel Smith of Sierra Madre. Their honeymoon, spent driving across the country, began a series of trips throughout the US and the world during their time together. Over the years, the couple would travel from Belgium to Brazil, from Switzerland to the Soviet Union and from Austria to Africa, as well as to all 50 states.

The Smiths raised their daughters, Kathy and Chris, in El Monte, California and Kensington, Maryland. While in Washington, DC, Ms. Smith particularly enjoyed her work as a docent at the National Gallery of Art. Another highlight of her time there was she and her daughter Kathy singing in the National Cathedral choir at Christmas.  

In 1970, after Mr. Smith’s retirement, they returned to California, settling in Claremont. Both were active in the Presbyterian Church and charity organizations, with Ms. Smith taking particular pride and joy in her work with Meals on Wheels. She was a voracious reader of history who once thoroughly impressed an Elder Hostel group with her ability to name the first ladies of all the American presidents.

Ms. Smith was known for developing a quick and kind rapport with all she met. Keeping in touch with friends and family, near and far, was very important to her.

“Visits with Vera left all enlightened, entertained and uplifted. She was a wonderful role model for all who were privileged to know her,” family shared. 

Her grandsons, Warren and Jesse Knapp and Marc Cushing, say they were blessed to have a grandmother so involved in their lives. Ms. Smith was preceded in death by her husband and daughters.

“Those who knew her know that being reunited with Mel, family and friends brought her great joy,” according to her family.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 14 at 11 a.m. at the Claremont Presbyterian Church, located at 1111 N. Mountain Ave. in Claremont.


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