Obituary Details

Hester Violet Smith

(04/13/1908 - 11/02/2015)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 11/04/2015

Hester Smith Notice

Funeral services for Hester Smith, 107, will be held at 11:00 A.M. Sat., Nov. 7, 2015 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Lusk. She passed away Mon., Nov. 2, 2015, at Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas.

Pier Funeral Home is assisting the family.

The Lusk Herald
November 4, 2015
Lusk Loses Hester Smith

by Lori Himes

In 1908, Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, a 46th star was added to the United States flag representing the state of Oklahoma, the average wage was 22 cents per hour and the average worker made between $200 and $400 per year, Mother's Day was observed for the first time and Hester Smith was born on April 13 in Wilton, Wisconsin.

As a child, she and her family lived with her father's parents on their farm in Ontario, Wisconsin, about 40 miles east of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

She grew up in Wisconsin, where she met and married her husband, Bill Smith. Bill landed a job at Dick Pfister Ranch, where they moved with their son Billy in 1937. Bill's mother also worked at the Pfister Ranch as a cook.

During World War II, the Smiths moved to Casper where Bill was employed at the Henry Petz Ranch and Hester landed a job at JC Penney and later for Montgomery Ward.

The Smiths moved to Lusk around the same time as the first Legend of Rawhide Pag4ant. The entire family participated in the pageant that year. Bill was a scout, Bill Jr. was an Indian and Hester rode in the wagon. Bill Jr. eventually took over the job of "arrow shooter" from Mr. Windham, the original pageant arrow shooter.

Smith clearly remembered the Blizzard of '49. In a Lusk Herald article from 2011 Smith recalled, "That's the year we built the Town House Motel." Smith had a head for business and when they sold the motel, she started the only gift shop in town, The Branding Iron Gift Shop. After selling the gift shop she started buying property, tried her hand at painting and wrote four books; two biographies on the lives of her husband and son, an autobiography and one about the Town House Motel.

Smith went on to say that she'd live her life over again, "If I could have my husband and son back to do it with." She said she wouldn't do anything differently. Smith was hesitant to offer any advice on life except to say that, "Everybody should have to do a little hard work so they understand the value of money. A little hard work never hurt anybody" and when asked what she owed her longevity to, Smith replied, "I just lived a clean life, I guess. I never drank or smoked. I worked hard all my life. Everybody always asks about what I eat, and I tell them homemade white bread, any kind of potatoes and chocolate ice cream."

For over 30 years she has prepared cookies for all of the Town of Lusk employees. She lived independently and cared for her own home up to her passing on November 2, 2015., with a little help from family and friends. Hester Smith was a classic example of a life well lived. She will be missed.

Funeral services for Hester Smith will be held at 11:00 A.M. Sat., Nov. 7, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Lusk.

The Lusk Herald
Hester Smith, longtime resident of Lusk, died on Monday, November 2 at Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas. She was 107 years young and the matriarch of the Smith family who dearly loved her.

Hester Violet Brey was born on April 13, 1908 in Wilton, Wisconsin, the daughter of Lela and Harry Brey. She was the oldest of 8 children. She grew up in Ontario, Wisconsin and graduated from high school there in 1930. That same year she married William "Bill" H. Smith. In 1931 they welcomed their first and only child, William "Billy" H. Smith, Jr. Unhappy with the poor economic condition of Wisconsin in 1939, Bill left to find work in Edgemont, South Dakota; Hester and Billy joined him in 1940. There, Hester became an accomplished horseback rider. Later, the family moved to several Wyoming towns before settling in Lusk. After working on several ranches, the family moved into town in 1945 and built the Smith Apartments, on the corner of Main and 6th, which later became Smith's Motor Lodge. They sold the establishment in 1962. Shortly afterward, Bill was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1963. Hester continued with life and built the Branding Iron Gift Shop on Main Street which she owned until 1970.

Although no longer a business woman, Hester kept busy with her 3 grandsons, Brett, Dave and Bruce whom she adored. She also enjoyed knitting, painting, and baking. For years, she baked cookies and made candy for the townspeople of Lusk during the holiday season.

Hester was a believer in Christ having been baptized as a child and was a long time member of St Paul's Lutheran Church.

The joy of her life was her family. In her lifetime, she was blessed with a son, 3 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great grandchildren. She loved knitting booties for new babies born in the family and there are some already made for great-great grandchildren not yet born. She took great joy in being with family and participated in every event including births, graduations, weddings, showers and birthdays. Her age never kept her from anything in celebration of her family.

She was preceded in death by her husband Bill Sr. and son Bill Jr., grandson Brett Smith, great-grandson Sean Smith and 6 siblings.

She is survived by her honorary daughter, Kay Smith, who provided loving care during Hester's aging years. She is also survived by her daughter-in-law Bonnie Smith and her family; grandsons Dave and wife Julie, and Bruce and wife Pam; granddaughter-in-law Eliana; great-grandchildren, Adam and wife Brandee, Alyssa and husband Dustin, Megan and husband Miguel, Tori and husband Jeremiah, Landon and Rivkah; great-great-grandchildren McKenna, Isabella, Jackson and Everly. She is also survived by her brother Roger and his wife Carol, and numerous nieces and nephews who were a blessing in her life as were special friends Jude Redfield and Carol and Gene Kupke of Lusk.

When Hester turned 105, she was asked if there was some tidbit of wisdom she would share with her family. Her answer was "Life is Short." Hester's short life was 107 years, 6 months and 21 days long. Her long life in Heaven has just begun.

Funeral services will be held Sat., Nov. 7, 2015, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Lusk, with burial in the Lusk Cemetery. Memorials to either St. Paul's or the Niobrara Senior Center are suggested by the family.

Pier Funeral Home assisted the family.

Images & Attachments



Photo by Debbie Rose

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Brey, Harry (11/30/-0001 - 07/02/1966) View Record
Obituary Brey, Paul (10/11/1934 - 02/12/2004) View Record
Obituary Smith, Sean (02/02/1985 - 02/02/1985) View Record
Obituary Smith, William (12/10/1908 - 08/15/1963) View Record
Obituary Smith, William (07/18/1931 - 11/28/2002) View Record
Obituary Smith, William (11/01/1956 - 02/02/2015) View Record
Historical Centenarians of Lusk View Record
Business Branding Iron Gifts View Record