Born just a few months after the first transatlantic phone call, and living to meet her great granddaughter via FaceTime, Patricia M. Smith (Patti) passed away peacefully on Sunday afternoon at her home in downtown Boise. She was born in Arkansas City, Kansas, the only child of Florence and Herbert Argabright. The family moved to San Marcial, New Mexico in 1920. Her father, Herbert, worked for the Santa Fe Railroad, as a district accountant. Because the Santa Fe Railroad moved their district headquarters to Albuquerque, the Argabright family also moved to Albuquerque, just before San Marcial was inundated by a Rio Grande River flood in August 1929. Patti arrived in Albuquerque at 13 years of age, where she attended both high school and then the University of New Mexico. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Library Science. Because she had been able to skip second and eighth grades, she earned her Bachelor's Degree when she was just 20 years old. Subsequently she earned a Master's Degree in Music for Organ Performance in 1938. Patti played organ for many church services and weddings. After graduation she became a 5th grade school teacher in Albuquerque's public school system.
Patti met her husband-to-be, Lester A. Smith (Les) in the spring of 1941 while he was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base near Albuquerque, where he was serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps. She and Les were married November 9, 1941. She shared a long and happy life together with her beloved Les for more than 60 years, who departed this world Feb 3, 2004. They have one son, Jeffrey Lance Smith, born November 12, 1942. It was a joke in the family that Patti and Les had only been married three days before their son was born!
Patti was involved in a serious automobile accident in the spring of 1942 on her way from Albuquerque to see Les who was stationed in El Paso, Texas. The car her friend was driving plunged over an embankment on a small two lane road which caused the car to roll over and Patti was thrown through the front passenger window. She ended up in a mesquite tree, which helped break her fall, but during the accident she suffered a broken neck. The miraculous part of the story is that in the very next car on that deserted road was an M.D. and his son. The doctor could see her neck was broken and with his son carefully carried her up the embankment to their car. The doctor held her in traction as they drove to the Army Air Corps hospital on the base in El Paso. Patti’s neck healed and she could walk after this accident, and more miraculously was that unbeknownst to her, she was also pregnant with Jeff. He was born a healthy baby boy with no ill effects resulting from his Mom’s accident.
After the end of WW II the family moved to Newport Beach, California where Patti and Les lived over 40 years. Patti became involved in a number of community activities including being Children’s Choir Director at St. James Episcopal Church while Les became a successful businessman. In 1990 Patti and Les moved to Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs. After Les died, Patti joined Jeff and Jo-Anne (her beloved daughter-in-law) in 2008 where they had made a home in Boise. Another family joke is that Patti would often introduce Jeff as her son and Jo-Anne as her daughter, and oh, by the way, they happen to be married.
During her time in Boise, Patti lived at the Royal Plaza, 11th and Main, which fulfilled her life long wish to live in an urban downtown environment and be part of city activities. She loved going out and about and joining Jo-Anne and Jeff as well as her many Boise friends for dinner at nearby restaurants and attending local performing arts functions.
Patti enjoyed Boise immensely because of the variety of excellent live music and its easy availability. She was a season patron of Opera Idaho, the Boise Philharmonic, the Boise Jazz Society, and Boise Baroque. She loved attending all the performances of each of these organizations. During her ten years in Boise, Patti developed numerous friends while attending various concerts and events.
Her family attributes Patti's long and full life to her persistent curiosity, love of music, and kindness and affection toward each person she met. Her family will forever miss her loving presence with them.
She is survived by Jeff and Jo-Anne, her granddaughters Shannon Smith and Jeneane Zeleznak, her son-in-law Maxim Zeleznak, and Patti’s new great granddaughter, Catherine Mae Zeleznak born January 10, 2018. Shannon, Jeneane, Maxim and Catherine Mae all reside in New York City.
Private services for the family will be held at a later date. If you wish to make a donation in Patti Smith's memory, please consider making it to Opera Idaho.