Clara Louise Essig Smith was born Nov. 28, 1921, in Lebanon, Ore., to Robert, a World War I veteran, and Mae Andrews Essig.
She lived in Oregon with her parents and grandparents on a farm outside of town until she was 9 months old. Her parents then relocated to Kingman, where her father worked as a truck driver for a mining supplies company and her mother worked for Mohave County Hospital. Her father later worked for the Kingman Post Office.
Clara attended elementary school in Kingman at the "little red schoolhouse." During her eighth-grade year, she contracted scarlet fever and attended school for only several months but still managed to graduate at the top of her class. She then attended high school at Mohave Union High School, graduating in 1939 as valedictorian. She continued her education at Arizona State University, Tempe, graduating as valedictorian in 1943 with a Masters in English.
Her first teaching assignment was in Ajo. She taught there for a year and then returned to Kingman, teaching English at the high school. Her brother, Robert, was one of her students. She also coached the girl's basketball team.
Clara and Albert H. Smith were good friends through their school years in Kingman and kept in contact during the war. He proposed by telegram returning from Marine Corps duty in the Pacific during WWII. They were married Dec. 30, 1945, and relocated to Brawley, Calif., in 1946. Mrs. Smith began teaching in the Brawley Elementary School system in 1961. She was a kindergarten teacher and taught at Witter, Phil Swing and Oakley. She retired in 1996. Clara was an avid gardener with two green thumbs. She also loved playing bridge with her friends. She was an accomplished piano player and loved all kinds of music.
Clara and Albert have four children, Kathleen, Teri (Roger) Smelser, Byron (Joanne) and Richard (Pattie), three grandchildren, Derek (Kari) and Matthew (Lisa) Smelser and Melissa Smith, and three great-grandchildren, Paige, Anson and Rhett Smelser.
Clara was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2007. She passed away on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010.
Clara is survived by her husband, Albert H. Smith; her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; sister, June Walker of Phoenix; nephews, Dennis Walker and family of Phoenix, and John Essig and family of Peoria, Georgina, Joline Morgan and family, Norma Barros and family.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4, at Frye Chapel and Mortuary in Brawley, with internment at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at Mountain View Cemetery in Kingman.