Dr. Frances Marian Smith, 76, of Edwardsville, passed away peacefully Wednesday, March 2, 2016, at her residence, surrounded by her immediate family.
Marian was born Oct. 10, 1939, in Quanah, Texas, to Frank and Helen Hook. She married Delvin Smith of Eldorado, Okla., in 1958. She earned her B.S. in Mathematics from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1962 and then spent the next 15 years living overseas in a variety of locations with her husband and two children, Saralyn and Stephen.
In 1979, while living in Aberdeen, Scotland, her husband passed away unexpectedly and Marian returned with her children to the United States to continue her education at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla., where she obtained her M.Ed. in Biology. She then proceeded to Kansas University in Lawrence to earn her Ph.D. in Botany. In 1987, she moved to Edwardsville, where she conducted a long and distinguished academic career before she retired as Professor Emeritus from the Biology Department at Southern Illinois University.
During her time at SIUE, Dr. Smith compiled an impressive record of plant research, working specifically on species of conservation concern. She and her many students focused on effective conservation and management strategies for plant species native to Illinois and the Mississippi River basin. Her extensive work led to partnerships with experts throughout the world, with several of them traveling to Edwardsville to work with Dr. Smith. Over the long course of her career, Dr. Smith provided research experience for over 100 students who worked in her lab as they completed their studies at SIUE. She was fully committed to her research and the education of future scientists, working tirelessly to secure funding for her students and their research. Many of her students became lifelong friends and she always enjoyed hearing from them or seeing them after they graduated SIUE.
Widely recognized as a scientific expert in plant conservation, Dr. Smith received many grants and awards, including the prestigious “Recovery Champion Award” and “Conservation Champion Appreciation Award” (United Fish and Wildlife Service), the Sigma XI Distinguished Researcher Award, The Hoppe Research Professor Award (SIUE) and she became a Fellow of the Illinois Academy of Science. She belonged to several professional and honor societies including the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Botanical Society of America, the Ecological Society of America, Illinois State Academy of Science, Sigma XI and Phi Kappa Phi.
After she retired, Marian loved to travel with friends and family, especially with her daughter, Saralyn, and son, Stephen. When not traveling, she could be found gardening in her yard, reading a book, biking, or swimming. She remained remarkably active and independent despite a series of health issues.
Marian was preceded in death by her beloved parents, Helen and Frank; her husband, Delvin Smith; and her grandson, Weston Lasley. She is survived by her brother, Dan Hook; daughter, Saralyn Lasley; son, Stephen Smith; and grandson, David Lasley. She is also survived by her two cherished cats, Pansy and Rose. Her family is planning a celebration of Marian’s life at her home in Edwardsville from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, March 12.
In lieu of flowers, please send any memorial donations to: Metro East Humane Society, 8495 IL-143 , Edwardsville, IL 62025.
Irwin Chapel of Glen Carbon in charge of arrangements; www.irwinchapel.com.