Esther Cordelia Smith, 96, WMC department head

June 01, 1996

Esther Cordelia Smith, 96, who retired in 1970 as chairman of the dramatic arts department at Western Maryland College after a 44-year career, will be remembered at a memorial service at 1: 30 p.m. tomorrow in the Westminster college's Baker Chapel.

Miss Smith died of heart failure Jan. 18 at a retirement home in Tiger, Ga.

She was born and raised in Jasper, Fla., and moved to Clayton, Ga., where she graduated from high school.

She came to Baltimore in 1924 to study at the Bard-Avon School of Expression and later attended Yale University, the University of Southern California and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

She began her association with WMC in 1926 as a speech instructor. She received the school's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1968 and was awarded an honorary doctor of fine arts degree in 1979.

At the time, the school's president, Ralph John, noted her "unpretentious sophistication, intellectual power and creative genius. She is a person whose gentility, empathy and unfailing affection for those she served, as well as those with whom she served, endeared her to successive generations on this campus."

Miss Smith retired to a cabin on Old Screamer Mountain in northern Georgia, where she continued to write and read until moving to a nursing home.

She is survived by a brother, Frank A. Smith of Clayton; and many nieces and nephews.

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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