Alice Newton Childs Smith, 100, who for more than half a century actively and tirelessly supported many community organizations in Holyoke, died Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, at Loomis Village in South Hadley.
Born Jan. 20, 1915, in Holyoke, Mrs. Smith was the daughter of Katharine (Ware) and Herbert B. Newton. Her father was a well-known paper manufacturer and the president of Newton Paper Co. Her parents had a summer home on Lake Raponda in Wilmington, Vermont, which Mrs. Smith continued to maintain until her death.
After a year at Northampton School for Girls, where she won the school-wide math prize, Mrs. Smith attended Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, graduating in 1932. At Vassar College (Class of 1936) she majored in French and afterwards worked in Northampton and later Boston for several years.
In 1943, Mrs. Smith married Benjamin W. Childs, a prominent shoe merchant in Holyoke, who during the war served as a lieutenant at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine. They had four daughters and were married for 38 years until his death in 1981. In 1993, she married William H. Smith of Longmeadow, who with his wife Rosie had been a longtime family friend. Bill, a former president of the Holyoke Savings Bank, died in 1999.
The following year, Mrs. Smith moved to Loomis Village. She first became involved in public service in 1935 as a volunteer at Holyoke Hospital, now the Holyoke Medical Center. Mrs. Smith worked in the coffee shop and chaired the hospital’s Follies fundraiser and also sang in the chorus. She was one of the six original Spinsters, who sponsored an annual dance for the benefit of the hospital and other groups. She joined the Junior League and later served as its president.
After she and Ben Childs returned to Holyoke in 1945, Mrs. Smith again became active at the hospital, serving as chair of the Holyoke Hospital Aid Association. When Ben died, she completed his term as a hospital board member, after which she served a full term on her own. In 1993 she was named an honorary chairperson of the hospital’s Centennial celebration.
A lifelong member of United Congregational Church of Holyoke and active in its ministry, Mrs. Smith was also a volunteer and officer at many other Holyoke organizations, including the Girl Scouts, the Child Guidance Clinic (now the River Valley Counseling Center), the Holyoke Medical Center, the YWCA, and local fund-raising campaigns of the American Red Cross and the Community Chest. Throughout her life, Mrs. Smith was a major supporter of the Holyoke Public Library, serving as its president and more recently as honorary co-chair of the library’s 2013 capital campaign, The Next 100 Years. In 1976, she was awarded the William G. Dwight Award for her work and commitment to the City of Holyoke. From the late 1950s until her death, she was a member of The Thursday Club, a literary group.
Mrs. Smith was a great walker, especially during the summer months in Vermont, a lover of birds, a collector of antique furniture, and an avid tennis player, skier, and bridge player.
Mrs. Smith’s survivors include three daughters, Susan Childs Merrick (Frank) of Summit, New Jersey, Katharine Childs Jones of Arlington, and Eliza Childs (Will Melton) of South Hadley. She is also survived by three step-daughters, Gertrude Smith Juncker of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Rose Virginia Smith Cole of Portland, Oregon, and Cynthia H. Smith of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Mrs. Smith leaves seven grandchildren, Timothy D. Merrick of Ithaca, New York, Jocelyn C. Merrick of Haydenville, Benjamin W. Merrick of Butler, New Jersey, Daniel S. Jones of Washington, D.C., William P. Melton of Cambridge, Alice S. Melton of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Cooper N. Melton of Catonsville, Maryland. She also leaves five great-granddaughters, Francesca, McKayla, Samantha, Natalie and Lucille.
Mrs. Smith was predeceased by her brother William W. Newton, her daughter Alice, and her grandson James McCann Melton.