Wilda Maxine Smith, 96, died October 3, 2020 at Hays Medical Center. She was born May 17, 1924 to Corwin and Mable (Roberts) Smith on a farm in Gove County, Kansas, one of ten children. During WWII, though she had just graduated from high school and had no teacher training, she was pressed into teaching, including one year in the one-room school where she had been a student. After the war, Wilda completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history at Fort Hays Kansas State College. Her master’s thesis was “The Struggle for Woman Suffrage in Kansas”. She taught history at Hays High School from 1953-1957. Her Ph.D. in history was earned at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Wilda taught history at Fort Hays State University for twenty-six years, serving as chairperson of the History Department for five years.
Wilda served on the Kansas Committee for the Humanities, the Coordinating Council of the National Women’s Studies Association, the Executive Committee of the Kansas Council for Social Studies, and the Board of Directors of the Kansas State Historical Society.
The biography of a native Kansan, The Wars of Peggy Hull: The Life and Times of a War Correspondent, which she co-authored with Eleanor Bogart, received the C.L. Sonnichhsen Book Award from Texas Western Press.
Wilda was preceded in death by her parents, long time companion Eleanor Bogart, sister Vivian Beougher and brothers Marion, Raymond, Kenneth, Carl, Francis, Don, Darrell and Corwin, Jr. She is survived by a sister-in-law, Marita Smith of Broomfield, CO, Norma and Quentin Bogart, Mesa, AZ, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Because of the corona virus, there will be a family graveside service. Memorials are suggested to Fort Hays State University.
Services in care of Brock’s-Keithley Funeral Chapel and Crematory, 2509 Vine Street, Hays, KS 67601.
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