Gertrude Smith 1923-2022
Friday, August 19, 2022, longtime Durham resident Gertrude Marie Riley Smith passed from this world
into the arms of the Lord – one day short of her 99th birthday. Gertrude was born in Boise Idaho on August 20,
1923, and moved with her mother, Ethel Riley to Durham when she was a high school student in 1939. She
was a member of the Durham High School Class of 1941. Her mother worked at the only restaurant in town, at
the location where the current Empire Bar exists. As a high school student, Gertrude would walk from the high
school site (where the Dwight Brinson Swim Center now exists) to the Cafe to help serve lunches.
As a teenager she was recruited by former Durham Elementary principal, E.G. England to work as a
plane-spotter during the War years. She met Willis Smith in high school and the two were married December
27, 1941. After marriage she worked for several pharmacies in Durham and later in Chico. She was preceded
in death by her husband, Willis.
She was active in the community throughout her life and was honored as Woman of the Year for the
Durham Picnic Day of 1988. She is survived by two sons who were raised locally: Mikal Smith (San RafaelKathryn Gibney) and Lance Smith (Durham-Rosemarie Brown). She leaves behind 3 grandchildren Brandon
Smith (Rain Martin) of Cotati, Chelsy Smith Newton (Jarret) of Napa, and Juliana Smith of Durham and four
great grandchildren. She was a Cub Scout Leader, volunteered time to help people who couldn’t get out of
their houses by delivering medicines, taking them to doctor appointments and helping with physical therapy
with temporarily disabled neighbors. Gertrude was a member of the Jr. and Sr. Women’s Clubs for many years
and belonged to the Legion Auxiliary many years ago. She worked with the March of Dimes, American Cancer
Society, Easter Seals and the Durham Community Chest. She was an honoree of the Durham Library Honors
in 2005 and appropriately the book she chose to be given to the local library was Lifetime Physical Fitness and
She was an avid walker and helped begin the Durham Streetwalkers morning group seen regularly
walking the Durham area streets. She participated in the Almond Blossom Run into her nineties. Since her retirement she found many ways to stay active and involved including working with CASA of Butte County. She
was the personal face of The Forum distribution and advertising and active in the Durham United Methodist
Church. She loved to travel, was an avid sports fan of the Giants, 49’ers and Warriors.
Judy Short 1928-2021
Judy Short was a terrific lady and wonderful woman who dedicated her entire life to education and was especially encouraging to young people when it came to reading. A regular attendee with her daughter Carolyn, she is sorely missed.
Barbara Berger 1935-2019
Barbara Berger was a terrific lady who was a member of Durham UMC for decades and participated fully in Church activities. She was kind and loving and the people in our congregation remember her best because of the many acts of kindness and generosity we received from her through the years. Goodbye, Barbara – we really miss you! God bless you.
Carla Cole 1939-2018
Carla Cole was a much loved and now a sorely missed member of our Church, and she passed away June 5, 2018. Carla was a sweetheart, good and kind. She was a loving wife, mother and grandmother and she was predeceased by her husband. She had a lively spirit, was fun, and loved to socialize at our Church. God bless you, Carla!
Vearl Early 1932-2016
The congregation of Durham Community United Methodist Church are saddened by the loss of church member Vearl Early, who passed away September 12, 2016. Vearl was a loving husband and family man, a brave member of the US Navy during the Korean War, and a lifelong resident of Durham. We’ll all miss you, Vearl, and God bless you!
Malcolm “Mac” McLeod 1926-2016
Our congregation is really going to miss Mac McLeod, husband of Darlene, who passed away in February, 2016. He was a loving husband, father and friend throughout his life. He is in heaven now where he was welcomed by our Lord. God bless you, Mac!
Billy Jones (1939-2015)
We were saddened at the loss of one of our favorite church members, Billy Jones, who passed away at the end of August, 2015. We’ll miss seeing your smiling face, Billy, and your warm hugs. Farewell, friend! We know you are in the loving arms of Christ now.