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Family and friends to celebrate the life of Dorothy Smith

Family and friends to celebrate the life of Dorothy Smith
Posted at 6:28 AM, Mar 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-26 10:17:33-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Family, friends, and community members are honoring the life of Dorothy Smith. A memorial is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

Smith was a leader and educator in San Diego and the first African American woman to be elected to public office in the county. She passed away in Feb., but loved ones say her legacy will not be forgotten.

“She loved to learn,” granddaughter Loren Lott said. “She loved retaining knowledge.”

Smith was elected in 1981. She served eight years on the San Diego Unified School Board and two of those years she served as its president.

Lott says growing up her grandmother taught her the importance of education.

“She was really big on educational opportunities, for you not to just get cast out but for you to have a chance through education,” Lott said. “That to her was the key to life. The more you know, the less anyone can take away from you.”

Secretary of State and close friend Dr. Shirley Weber says during Smith’s time on the school board, she gave added hope to San Diegans.

“She had the sensitivity of being a woman, a mother, and being a friend all at once,” Weber said.

Smith mandated policies for students to ensure they would qualify for college.

“She was an advocate to make every kid in the city take algebra,” Weber said. “We had a lot of kids that were smart, who were not getting adequate counseling. No one told them you needed to take algebra to get into San Diego State. We had a lot of kids who didn’t get into the CSU because they didn’t take algebra.”

Smith taught at Grossmont Community College, San Diego City College, and San Diego State University as an educator. While at SDSU, she led the Aim-to-teach program that worked to increase diversity in the teacher credential program. She also helped found the McGill School of Success in 1996.

“It wasn’t one thing that she did. It was all the things that she did that were so special that was so unique,” Weber said.

Smith passed away on Feb. 16 at 82-years-old.

Loved ones say she inspired so many, but she was most admired for her humbleness.

“I’m just so honored that I got to be her granddaughter, that I got to know her,” Lott said.

In 2019 Smith was honored with a Trailblazer Award from the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame.

Smith’s family says the memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 26, at Christ United Presbyterian Church. It is set to begin at noon.