Mary Smith, Jamestown, ND, died Wednesday morning, August 3, 2022, at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, ND.
Mary Elizabeth Smith was born July 24, 1947, at Lisbon, ND, the daughter of Earl H. and Elizabeth (Gutting) Smith. She was a high school graduate of the Anne Carlsen Center (formerly the Crippled Children’s School) in Jamestown, ND. She then went on to attend MSU (Moorhead) graduating in 1970 with a degree in Social Work. Mary obtained her Master’s of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling in 1989 from MSU (Mankato).
The first fifteen years of Mary’s distinguished career were spent in ND. In 1972, she was employed as a Social Service Worker at Wells County Social Service Board in Fessenden and two years later she began work at the South Central Human Services Center in Jamestown.
Mary then made the big move to the San Francisco Bay Area of California to continue her life’s work. Most of her career there was spent at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkley, where she worked extensively to develop best practices to provide medical services to the disabled. It was during this time Mary co-founded Breast Health Access for Women with Disabilities (BHAWD). Her work included collaboration with mammography manufacturers to make their machines more user friendly for the disabled, writing curriculum and training for physicians and technicians regarding positioning during exams and providing training across the country. Mary’s work in BHAWD led to cutting edge advancements in mammography which have improved medical care opportunities for disabled women across the country. She also led many workshops in San Francisco for people with disabilities to empower them with skills for self-health care and assertiveness when dealing with medical care professionals.
Her expertise led her to serve for two governors on National Committees in Washington, DC. Mary spent extensive time traveling the country, providing invaluable information to elected officials on ways to make public transportation more ADA accessible.
Mary’s wisdom and experience was highly sought after and lovingly shared through her volunteer work. She served on the Board of Directors for East Bay Innovations (San Leandro, CA), AXIS Dance Company (Oakland, CA) and Anne Carlsen Center (Jamestown). She also served on the Mayor’s Committee on Disabilities in Jamestown, was a mentor and volunteer for the Freedom Resource Center in Fargo & Jamestown, volunteered at the Jamestown Senior Center and, was a frequent guest reader to kindergarten- 4th grade students at Jamestown Public Schools. Mary’s leadership presence, keen insights, laser-sharp clarity, sassy wit and quick laugh assured she was beloved by all who met and knew her.
She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Dale and Earl David; an infant sister Edna Mae; and brothers-in-law, Kenneth Cavett, Kent Bartl, Roger Jensen and David Holtan.
Mary is survived by her sisters, Arlene (Alton) Nitschke, Carmen Cavett, Mardell Bartl, and Cheryl (Terry) Liebel; sisters-in-law, Peggy Smith and Carol Holtan; many nieces, nephews, cousins, and the special friends she made along life’s journey.
Finally, Mary is also survived by her faithful companion, Dakota, her motorized wheelchair. Dakota has transported Mary throughout the Bay Area of Oakland to the streets of Jamestown and many points in between.
A quote from Mary, “My sail will always be unfurled wherever I am.”
Memorial Service- 1:00 PM Friday, August 12, 2022 at the Haut Funeral Chapel-Jamestown, ND
Mary’s ashes will be laid to rest in Oakwood Cemetery- Lisbon, ND.