In Memoriam: Marilyn Smith – Oct. 12

Marilyn Smith

Marilyn Smith, former Directorate employee, died Oct. 12. She was 56. She is survived by her husband Necota, a former Fermilab employee, and four sons.

Smith started at the laboratory in July of 1980 as a clerk in lab services and public information.

Assistant Director Jeff Appel knew Marilyn when she first came to the laboratory. She worked as the laboratory receptionist at the front desk in the Wilson Hall atrium and handled public auditorium event ticket sales. Appel, who was on the Auditorium Committee, said Smith was enormously caring.

“Marilyn was good with people. She was the face of the laboratory and was always helpful,” Appel said.

Smith began working with the Directorate in 1985. She was promoted to secretary in fall of 1986 and then worked her way up in the organization, becoming administrative assistant in 1991 and then Directorate assistant in 1996. Smith retired on July 6 of this year as Directorate administrator.

Marilyn Smith with Young-Kee Kim and Pier Oddone at the 30 Year Service Award Ceremony on Oct. 28, 2010. Photo: Reidar Hahn

For 17 of her years at the laboratory, Smith worked as assistant to Ken Stanfield, who served as the deputy director of the laboratory.

“Marilyn was my coworker and friend,” Stanfield said. “She was an outstanding, dedicated member of the Director’s Office team.”

BJ Bjorken, who retired from the laboratory, worked with Smith in the Program Planning Office in the 1980s and remembers her as being intelligent, professional, dignified and having great personal warmth.

“These seldom coexist peacefully within the same individual,” Bjorken said. “But in Marilyn’s case, they were a perfect fit. I was most privileged to have had the opportunity to work with her.”

Smith, whose duties in the Directorate eventually included website updates and helping with the international and fellowship programs, was also always willing to teach others.

“She was one of the first ones to really understand email and webpages when they came around,” said Roy Rubinstein, assistant director. “She helped us when those things were new and strange.”

One of the things that made people rely on Smith was her caring nature.

“She had a great sense of humor and was a classy lady,” said Sue Grommes, a colleague and friend of Smith’s. “It was a joy to have had her as a great friend. I will miss her so very much.”

Jackie Coleman, a retired Fermilab employee who worked with Smith for many years, said Smith was conscientious and thoughtful.

“Marilyn had a kind, welcoming smile and a knack for making people feel comfortable. She had great love for her family and was incredibly proud of her four sons. We stayed in touch after we both retired and I will miss her very much,” Coleman said.

Deputy Director Young-Kee Kim felt similarly about Smith, who worked as her administrative support staff for five years.

“For me, she was a mother. She liked to take care of people and made sure that I took care of myself,” Kim said. “This is really, really sad.”

When remembering Smith, Grommes said she always thinks about how “people might forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Rhianna Wisniewski