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Mary Marie Smith

Graduating from Northwest was a family affair for the Smith sisters: Mary Marie Smith '45, Louise Smith Gillis '32, and Irene Smith Cole '31.  Despite having their college careers financed through their aunt, Effie King, the sisters could not afford - in money or time - to return home to Blythedale very often.  What would be a 65-mile, one-hour trip by today's standards was an all-day adventure via train for the sisters.  

Because their father was ill, Smith did not immediately start college after graduating Bethany High School in 1941.  After his death in 1941, she began classes at Northwest.  During the summer of 1944, Smith was one of the first women hired at Phillips Petroleum Co. in Kansas City.  As a lab assistant, her starting salary was $175 a month.  She saw no need to give up such a good job and return to her last year of college but Gillis saw it differently and insisted that she return and graduate from Northwest.  Smith graduated in 1945.  For 37 years thereafter, she served as a laboratory chemist for Phillips.

Following her retirement, Smith did volunteer work for 20 years at the Johnson County Kansas Public Library and for Pets for Life.  Graduating from Northwest has continued to be a Smith tradition.  Besides the three sisters, other Smith Northwest alumni include a nephew, a niece and several grandnieces and grandnephews.
Scholarships associated with Mary Marie Smith
  • Mary Marie Smith Scholarship