, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 9, 2012

Remembering Lois Smith, celebrity publicist and champion of PI


Catherine Dullea, chairwoman of the Newbury Board of Library Trustees, recalled the first time she met Smith was in the mid-2000s when the Southern Boulevard woman sailed into a meeting and announced she was thinking of running for a seat on the library board. Dullea said they laid out the process for her, explaining how she would need to collect signatures on nomination papers to get her name on the town ballot.

‘“She told us, ‘I’ll just go to the dump and stand at the dump and get some signatures,’” Dullea said.

Sure enough, she did, ultimately getting herself elected and channeling her lifelong love for reading into becoming one of the library’s most ardent supporters over the last half-dozen years. Most recently, she had been working to launch a new library friends group and was to have spent yesterday distributing fliers about an upcoming library fundraiser.

Dullea said one of Smith’s long-term desires was to create an endowment for the library so it would have a dedicated funding stream and wouldn’t be so fragile and dependent on the local economy. Indeed, the Newbury Library was chosen by Smith’s family as one of two beneficiaries for contributions in her memory.

Dullea said she’ll most remember Smith for her knack for bringing people and situations together for a common good.

“I think what would be her greatest gift in life is that she could see a connection between people and situations and opportunities and saw them as bright, glowing threads in the world,” Dullea said.

It was on Plum Island, where she earned the nickname of mayoress from some, that Smith especially felt at home. Here, she spearheaded fundraising efforts, including a voluntary toll at the beach center. As a staunch liberal Democrat, she organized forums on social and political issues.

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