Lois C.A. Smith, 89
Lois Claire Archbold Smith died peacefully in her sleep on October 13, 2018 in Wausau, Wisconsin. Lois’ life and legacy are marked by her three passions in life: family, art and community.
Lois Archbold was born in Scotch Plains, New Jersey in 1929 to parents Ray and Clara (Liana) Archbold. Her talent and love of the musical arts began early, and by age 16 she was working as a piano teacher, while emerging as an excellent pianist and student. She attended Juilliard in New York in the Concert Piano program, and then completed her Bachelor’s degree at Indiana University, where she met Darwin Smith. They married in 1950, and soon after moved to Cambridge, MA for Harvard Law School. Twins Steven and Pamela were born in 1952, and daughter Valerie followed quickly in 1953. The family settled in Lake Winnebago, WI when Darwin began to work for Kimberly-Clark. Lois poured her energy into her young family, writing plays for the children’s schools and teaching piano lessons. In 1965 a son, Blair, was born.
Lois was always at Darwin’s side as he rose through the ranks of K-C, eventually being named CEO, hosting corporate functions and traveling the world with him for business. Her ease with people and worldly sophistication was an asset to their life together amongst industry leaders, foreign dignitaries and local partners alike.
After K-C moved to Texas, Lois, a self proclaimed “opera-phile”, became a patron of The Dallas Opera, her main focus of their time in Dallas and a life-long passion. After retiring, they started spending more time on the farm they purchased in Wittenberg, WI. Lois set to beautifying the property, building gardens and cutting walking trails, creating an idyllic summer home for their children and grandchildren to enjoy.
Lois started a new chapter in her life when Darwin died in 1995, focusing on her love of the arts and community. During this final chapter, Lois accomplished a lifetime of goals and experiences. She spent almost 20 summers visiting the Santa Fe Opera, where she took great pride in sponsoring two emerging talents each year through their Apprentice Program.
She spent her winters at her mountain ski home in Deer Valley, Utah, where she hosted big family Christmases for her children and grandchildren. She also hosted friends and family from all over, including a regular group of Wisconsin friends, for the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, one of her favorite annual traditions.
Lois continued spending as much time as possible at her beloved Gotrocks farm in Wittenberg.
During this time she noticed a need in the Wittenberg Community: there was no local swimming pool where children could learn to swim, and the high school did not have a swim team. In the summer of 1999, The Darwin E Smith Community Aquatic Center was dedicated and opened, as a gift to the community by the community and her family. It continues to serve the area with two pools for lap swimming, family swim, water aerobics, a youth swim program, a high school swim team, a work out facility, and yoga classes.
In the early 2000s she started a new mission: to beautify and revive downtown Wittenberg through large-scale,outdoor murals. In 2005 she and a dedicated board founded the Walls of Wittenberg, Inc. WOW now boasts 25 murals around the town, a beautifully restored WOWSPACE art gallery, that hosts four annual art shows each year, and an outdoor Art Park, that is home to an annual summer concert series. Before she passed away, Lois completed the planning for her “final mural” which will be dedicated in the spring of 2019.
Lois hosted fundraising concerts in her barn, sharing her love of classical music, and opened her home to visiting artists, friends and family. There was hardly a day from June to September when her home wasn’t full, brimming over with loved ones from around the world coming to be in her presence and share the beautiful nature haven she created. It is such a beloved place that two of Lois’ grandchildren have chosen to live on Gotrocks Farm.
During the final years of her life, Lois battled the terrible lung condition Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Refusing to let illness define her, Lois never dwelled on her illness, so much so that many did not even know she was afflicted. She quietly battled through frequent and debilitating bouts of pneumonia with stoicism, strength and grace. She lived a full life of joy, adventure and love. She died peacefully, listening to music and reading poetry, surrounded by loved ones.
Lois will be remembered by her love and patronage of the arts, her devotion to her family and her generosity to her community.
Lois is survived by her four children Steven (Karen) Smith, Pamela Smith, Valerie (Terry Henderson) Smith, and Blair (Anne) Smith, 9 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her husband, Darwin E. Smith and her brother, Ken Archbold.
Lois has requested that there be no funeral or memorial service. Donations in her honor may be made to support the Darwin E. Smith Community Aquatic Center. Please send your 501(c)(3) donation to:
The Helping Foundation
PO Box 412
Wittenberg, WI 54499