Holley Randall Smith passed away May 8, 2013, at the family ranch in Glen, Mont., at the age of 90, with friends and family at her side. Mom has gone on to join Dad and help get things organized, as she did during their 66 years of marriage. Together again, they will dance as they used to, and hopefully send us rain!
Holley was born in Irvington, N.Y., on Sept. 17, 1922, to Paul and Katherine Randall. She had two brothers and two sisters. Raised and educated in New York, she graduated from Vassar College in 1944 with a degree in economics. Mom's upbringing prepared her for an active life of adventure in ranching, as she excelled in sports, especially diving and fencing (NOT the barbed-wire kind!). Holley met E. Maynard Smith while he was attending Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy in New York, and after the war they married on July 6, 1946, in Irvington, N.Y. They honeymooned their way across the continent to their new home in California in a car that wouldn’t go in reverse, and thus their lifelong adventures began.
In California, Holley worked to help put Maynard through college at UC Davis, and they purchased Maynard’s family ranch in Lodi, where their four children were born. They ranched at Lodi until 1964, when they moved to the ranch in Glen, the family of six Smiths forming the 6-S Ranch. Holley did not know about ranching when she married Maynard, but she threw herself into it wholeheartedly and soon learned about raising cattle, sheep, horses, plants and the cycles and seasons of life on a ranch. She taught her kids to ride and how to identify plants, and she and Maynard would take them on family camping and fishing trips into the Sierra Mountains in California.
Holley was active in many organizations, and was a strong patriot. She loved to visit the legislature every session, and kept close tabs on bills that affected agriculture. She loved to go to range management tours and competed in many plant ID contests in Alberta and Montana. She was always interested in learning more, keeping her finger on the pulse of what affected ranching and agriculture, and made sure that seminars, hearings and tours were attended. When they moved to Glen, they were immediately faced with the proposed Reichle Dam on the Big Hole River a few miles from the ranch, and Holley, ever the original advocate and activist, was instrumental in halting the dam project. Holley was a member of Society for Range Management, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Southwestern Stockmen’s Association, Church of the Big Hole, California Cow Belles, and was on the boards for Museum of the Rockies and the Smithsonian Institution, and the Beaverhead County Planning Board. Holley was a strong advocate for veterans of all wars, and was particularly devoted to their causes.
Holley shared her love of learning and education throughout her lifetime. She taught French to the students at Reichle School for 20 years. She was a 4-H leader in California and Montana for a total of almost 50 years; tales of her adventures as a chaperone at 4-H Congress are legend. She taught Sunday school and played the piano and old pump organ at the Church of the Big Hole in Melrose. She played by ear, as she was not good at reading music. She enjoyed reading, doing puzzles and playing games in spare time.
Holley was a mentor and “adopted” mom and grandmother to an extended family of people from all over the U.S. and many foreign countries. She and Maynard opened their home to all visitors and enjoyed sharing their Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings with a growing circle of friends and family through the years. She was known for her homemade soups, pot roasts, and delivering hot meals on wheels to the crew when branding or trailing cattle.
Holley kept the books for the ranch until recent years, and was actively involved in 6-S Ranch decisions. She said her credo to economize and recycle came from her childhood during the Great Depression. Frugality and hospitality were her hallmarks.
Holley is survived by her four children: Katharine Smith, Brack Smith (Janet), Randy Smith (Emily) and Meg Smith; nine grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; a sister, Frances Wood of New York; nieces; nephews and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Maynard, and her father, mother, two brothers and a sister, and one grandson.
Organization, education, activism, patriotism, family and community are what Holley Smith was all about. She was a great lady, and she will be sorely missed.
Memorials may be made to Church of the Big Hole, Southwestern Stockmen’s Association, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Beaverhead Home Health and Hospice, veterans organizations or to the donor’s choice.
Holley’s family invites friends to participate in a celebratory memorial service on May 30, at 4 p.m. at the ranch, Smith 6-S Livestock, 7450 Schoolhouse Road, Glen, MT. Reception will follow.