EDITOR’S NOTE: Jean Bruce of the Wood River Museum provided AdVantage News with this submission regarding museum founder Lawanda Smith. A memorial service for Smith will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, at the First Methodist Church, Sixth and Lorena Avenue in Wood River.
We are saddened to report that Lawanda Smith, 78, has passed away.
The founder of the Wood River Museum, Lawanda had a vision to establish a museum to preserve Wood River’s rich history. She organized the Wood River Heritage Council in 1993, and in May 1997 the Wood River Museum and Visitor’s Center had its grand opening. Her dream had become a reality.
Lawanda served as president of the Heritage Council from 1993 until 2003 and museum director from 1997 until 2003. (She was quick to point out that she was just one of several founders).
After the death of her husband, former Mayor Lon A. Smith, Lawanda moved to Wichita, Kan., to be near her son. She kept in contact and always was willing to advise museum staff. Last fall, she returned to Wood River to speak at History Night at the Museum, talking about the early farm families (one of her favorite subjects).
She also wrote “The History of Wood River,” which is still available at the museum, and was involved in many other projects including coordination of Meals on Wheels, serving on boards and commissions, president of Wood River Women’s Club, active in Lewis and Clark Society, teaching piano lessons and involvement in her church.
Her knowledge and community involvement will never be forgotten, and we are thankful for that time we had with her.