Shirley Rae Smith


Shirley Rae Smith, 90 years young, passed away December 23, 2022, in Evanston.  She was surrounded with love by the near and far presence of three generations.

Shirley was born October 6, 1932, in Logan, Utah, to George Ernest and Clara Phippen Blakeslee. Her family was grateful to hear the stories of growing up in Evanston, graduating and jobs such as working in the railroad telegrapher’s office before becoming a homemaker.  Shirley was known as an outstanding cook and was famous for her chow mein, lasagna, and cheese straws.  Although she loved to read and collect cookbooks, many of her meals were made without recipes.  The younger family cooks were challenged to replicate her dishes, often with mixed results.  She was an artist who enjoyed working with ceramics, painting, and making glass beads for original jewelry; later creating bright beaded jewelry for her daughters and grands was a passion.  Shirley enjoyed playing pinochle and bridge with her lifelong friends. 

She loved to travel and took delight in being a snowbird after Ray’s retirement. Their travels waned as Ray endured a debilitating neurological disease, requiring increasing care by Shirley and their daughters.

It was often said that Shirley never met a dog, cat, or bird she didn’t like.  She took in an abandoned baby robin, Chirp, who lived with the family for many years. That love and respect for animals and all life was passed to her children.

In the 1970s Shirley pioneered caring for handicapped children by establishing a group to form a nonprofit entity serving Uinta County.  Many years of travel to statewide meetings and hours of volunteer service with her significant group organized educational and physical exercises, enhancing lives for those special children and families.  Her own children also remember opening their home, as Mom met and invited adolescent patients for home meals and holidays away from the Wyoming State Hospital.

One of the most remarkable attributes about Shirley was her unselfish love of others, especially her family. She was a kind, generous and sincere woman who put the needs of others before her own.   She adored her children, grandchildren, the great-grands.  In her later years, she never complained about her health and redirected conversations to ask how others were doing.  There was nothing more important to her than letting her family know how much she loved and cared about them.  And they did the same for her. 

Shirley is survived by her children, Kevin Ray (Marla) Smith of Cheyenne, Christie (Marc) South of Evanston and Wendy (David) Welling of Evanston; brother Sonny (Margo) Blakeslee; sister Georgia Harvey; ten grandchildren and 25.5 great-grandchildren.

She is preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Raymond Bert Smith.  Shirley fell in love with Ray early in her life, while working wrapping butter in a local creamery he managed.

Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday, December 29, 2022 at the LDS 4th Ward on Sage Street with a viewing from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Burial will be in the Evanston City Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Uinta Cancer Care Foundation, P.O. Box 2234, Evanston. 

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