Ada E. Smith
September 7, 1928 – September 28, 2021 (age 93)
Longtime Denver Public Schools teacher Ada E. Smith passed away peacefully at her home in Denver on Sept. 28, 2021, surrounded by family members. She was 93.
Ms. Smith (formerly Ada E. Bolden) was born on Sept. 7, 1928, in Paris, Texas. While living in the Lone Star State, she graduated from college, married a Baptist minister, taught elementary school for two decades, and gave birth to five children.
In 1970, Ada, her children and her then-husband, the Rev. Marshall L. Smith, Sr., moved to Denver, where she taught general education and music to students at Wyman, Knapp and Barney Ford elementary schools. She quickly developed a reputation as a concerned, conscientious, and hard-working teacher, which were characteristics that followed her throughout her career.
After retiring in 1998, Ada worked for several years as a substitute teacher in the DPS, primarily at Samuels Elementary School.
Earlier in her career, which began at Baldwin Elementary School in Paris, Ada taught music lessons to students and family members and performed at numerous piano recitals. As a longtime pianist, she accompanied church choirs and played piano at school pageants and community programs whenever she was asked to do so.
Ada was a member of Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Paris as well as the Order of the Eastern Star.
In addition to inspiring students professionally for almost 50 years, Ada encouraged her own sons and daughters to be true to themselves. She also fought for equal rights for adults, groups and causes that she believed were often overlooked. For example, as a member of the National Education Association, she made placards and walked picket lines wearing a blue sweatshirt emblazoned with the slogan: “Teachers United will not be divided.”
Ada earned a bachelor’s degree in 1949 from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Founded in 1873, it is one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities in the United States. At Wiley, Ada was active in the music department, served as president of the French club and was a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
In 1977, she earned a master’s degree at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo.
Ada is survived by five children: Audrey Jackson (and her husband, Garcia) of Washington, D.C.; Marshall L. Smith, Jr. of Longview, Texas; Rhonda Smith of Denver, Colo.; Marcus C. Smith (and his wife, Michelle) of Phoenix, Ariz.; and Veronique “Nikki” Smith of Lakewood, Colo.; nine grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and numerous extended family members and friends.
She was predeceased by her parents, James W. and Minnie B. Bolden of Paris; her former husband, Marshall Smith; and her siblings, Martha Alford of Los Angeles, Calif.; Saundra Hall of Dallas, Texas; Lavitus Guillory of Oakland, Calif., and Virginia Bolden and James Bolden, Jr., both of Paris.
At Ada’s request, her family held a private memorial service on Sept. 28, 2021.
Donations may be made to:
National Processing Center
Attn: Colorado Chapter
P.O. Box 96011
Washington, D.C. 20090-6011
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PO Box 96011, Washington DC 96011