Originally Published: March 1, 2008 7:51 p.m.
Harriett E. Dicus Smith was born in Jerome, Ariz., on May 9, 1923, to Lawrence E. and Dorothy (Averyt) Dicus. She passed away on Feb. 11, 2008, after a short illness in Las Vegas, Nev., where she lived for 30 years. She was a member of Christ Church Episcopal and received Last Rites.
Harriett came from two Arizona pioneer families, and the experiences - both difficult and wonderful - of growing up in an Arizona mining town served her well throughout her life. She could be tough when life required it, yet she always believed in having a good time. Harriett left Jerome in 1940 after graduating from Jerome High School, but she returned often to several Arizona towns.
Harriett is survived by two children, Carolyn Wroughton Smith Bradshaw of Prescott, Ariz., and Ron Wroughton Smith of El Segundo, Calif.; grandchildren, Paul Dicus Brown, Kimberly Baker and Brett Baker; three great-grandchildren; and brother John Dicus of San Manuel, Ariz. She is predeceased by her daughters, Pamela Smith (infant) and Vicki Lee Smith Baker.
In 1940, Harriett moved to Los Angeles to attend Woodbury Business School. She worked for Hughes Tool Company in Culver City during World War II. In 1942 in Seattle, she married Rodney Wroughton Smith, who served in the United States Navy and was a Pearl Harbor survivor. They had four children and resided in Culver City where Rod worked in the motion picture industry. During these years, Harriett made a fine home for her family.
Later, Harriett and her children together faced the challenges of Harriett being a single mother following her divorce in 1962. What became favorite lifelong family memories came from the many times that Harriett loaded her children into a '55 Chevy and made trips back to Arizona, during which she would recite rich family history anecdotes. She worked the graveyard shift at a toy manufacturing company and taught her children the values of hard work and self-reliance. She encouraged her children to participate in youth activities and exposed them to practical lessons in citizenship, such as when she volunteered to campaign for presidential candidate Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, a family friend. She proudly waived the American flag and loved the history of our country. As a high school senior in Jerome, she won a statewide oratorical contest with a speech entitled "The Law We Live By - The U.S. Constitution." She was awarded 10 dollars. Harriett also won praise for her low-voice vocal at a high school singing competition in Flagstaff, and she never hesitated to remind her children of her talent as she belted out songs while playing the family piano. Harriett was fun loving and always opened her home to friends and family.
Harriett especially enjoyed her gardens. She could grow anything from a cutting or a seed. If a seedling took three years to bear fruit, that was fine with her. Upon moving to Las Vegas, she quickly took a pick ax and went to work on the hard desert soil to make way for her gardens. Harriett never wilted under the Nevada sun but her children trying to keep up with her sometimes did. She will be remembered for her tremendous roses and the carpets of purple violets that continue to grow.
Throughout her life, Harriett traveled extensively in the United States and Canada and toured Europe and China. Her stories of travel adventures showed spunk and spirit, such as when she simply dusted herself off and went on after being hit by a car in London and when she bravely traveled alone in the Paris subway system.
Harriett's years in Las Vegas were distinguished by the joy, love, kindness and comfort that her friends brought to her life, as well as the numerous organizations to which she belonged. Harriett was a member of the Valley of Fire Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Samoset Chapter of the Colonial Dames Seventeenth Century, and the Nevada South Branch of Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims. She had also belonged to the Active Republican Women's Club, the Salvation Army Auxiliary and the Nevada Historical Society. She was a public member of the Nevada State Board of Landscape Architecture and served on the advance press staff for a trip to Las Vegas by President Ronald Reagan. For three decades, Harriett and her many friends strengthened the ties that make Las Vegas a strong community. These were some of the happiest years of her life.
Harriett E. Dicus Smith will be laid to rest at the Valley View Cemetery in Clarkdale, Ariz., in her father's plot. A private family burial will be conducted. Harriett is at peace in the valley and she is loved.
Information provided by survivors.