Linda Smith passed away on February 9th, 2024, at her home in New Providence, NJ.
Linda was born on November 11th, 1938, in Chicago, IL, to Walter and Georgina Ceperly. She grew up in Highland Park, IL, along with her older brother Geoff, who died of polio when Linda was fourteen years old.
She went east for college, attending Pembroke College (Brown University), where she majored in psychology. While at Pembroke, she also met Doug Smith—her future husband and the love of her life. Linda and Doug both graduated with their BA degrees in the spring of 1960, and they were married in August of that year, in a ceremony in the backyard of Linda’s childhood home.
Doug pursued an MBA at Columbia University, while Linda worked at various clerical positions in New York City to support the young couple. They soon welcomed their first child, Marci. A second child, Scott, followed three years later. The family settled in Somerset, NJ.
In 1970, Doug took a job in Toledo, and the family moved to Ohio. Linda spent the next sixteen years there. She raised the children, volunteered at Meals on Wheels, and pursued an array of hobbies (knitting, painting, golfing…along with some admittedly ill-advised attempts at pickling vegetables and making egg rolls from scratch).
In 1980, with one child safely off to college and the other busy in high school, Linda decided to return to her own studies. She pursued a PhD in school psychology at the University of Toledo. It was a brave move, after what felt to her like a nearly insurmountable time away from the classroom. She was initially painfully self-conscious about the age gap between herself and her classmates, but she soon found her bearings, and she was very proud to complete the challenging PhD program with straight A’s.
Doug’s work prompted two additional moves in the coming years, first to Augusta, GA, and then, closing the circle, back to NJ. Linda and Doug bought a house in Greenbrook, where they lived for the next nineteen years. Linda took a job at JFK Hospital’s Center for Head Injuries in Edison, where she evaluated and supported adolescents and adults who’d suffered head injuries. She loved this work and truly thrived in it.
When Linda and Doug retired, they became intrepid world travelers, visiting Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Morocco, India, and Egypt, as well as cities throughout Europe. Linda took up the piano and began to volunteer as an ESL tutor. She also spent many happy hours working in her garden (and telling Doug what to do).
In many ways, Linda was a lifelong student, with an insatiable intellectual curiosity, and she devoted much of the free time that her retirement provided to reading. In addition to fiction, Linda grew deeply immersed in the histories of religion and India.
She also reveled in becoming a grandparent during these years. Marci and her husband Larry Brand gave birth to twin daughters, Emma and Sarah. Linda felt too young in spirit to be a grandparent, so she asked the twins to call her and Doug “Star” and “Hunk.” Every summer, Star and Hunk would host the two girls for “Camp Smith,” which invariably included a week’s worth of minutely and lovingly planned activities and field trips.
Linda and Doug moved to the Lantern Hill Senior Living Community in December of 2019. Doug had begun to suffer memory issues, and Linda increasingly became not only his spouse and soulmate but also his caregiver. She made sure that Doug was actively engaged in their new community. She loved living in Lantern Hill and was delighted to make many new friends there. She eagerly took part in the many classes and reading groups that Lantern Hill provided.
Linda was a smart, tough, hardworking, multitasking woman. She loved nothing more than a to-do list. She didn’t simply watch TV—she watched TV and knitted or read or played a game, all at the same time. She wrung dry every moment of every day. Throughout her life, she ran her household with absolute authority. As children, Sarah and Emma quickly intuited this law of nature. When something would break, and Marci would apologetically tell the young girls that it couldn’t be fixed, the girls would look skeptically at her, and say: “Maybe we can ask Star?” Because everyone knew this: if you broke something, you went to Linda to mend it, and if you lost something, you went to her to find it. But now it’s Linda who’s been broken and lost, and she’s no longer here to make it right.
She is survived by her husband, Doug Smith, her two children and their spouses, Marci and Larry Brand, and Scott Smith and Elizabeth Hill, as well as Linda’s grandchildren, Emma and Sarah Brand, and a host of friends and loved ones, all of whom miss her terribly.
The family expresses their gratitude for all the love and support they’ve received during this difficult time. At Linda’s request, there will be no memorial service.