Obituary: Kenneth Clyde Smith
April 21, 1926 to June 28, 2013
Dr. Ken Smith, long-time resident of South Lake Tahoe, passed away on June 28, 2013. He was 87 years old. Ken was born to Kenneth Clyde Smith and Anne Harriet (Kelsey) Smith on April 21, 1926, and was raised in Alameda, CA. His father died in 1940, and his mother, a registered nurse, raised him and his older sister Jean.
Near the end of, and after World War II, Ken served in the Army, mainly in the Philippines and Germany. He was a 2nd Lieutenant when he was honorably discharged. Ken returned to the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley. While at “Cal” he met fellow student, Ruth Marilyn “Lynne” Zant. They were later married in San Mateo, CA on July 16, 1950. They took a brief trip to Lake Tahoe after the wedding.
Soon after being married, Ken and Lynne headed to Montreal, Canada to enter medical school at McGill University. The trip east served as their honeymoon, camping across the USA and Canada. Ken graduated near the top of his class from McGill University in 1954. Just before Ken’s graduation, their first son, Kenneth Clyde “Casey” Smith was born. They later moved to the Bay area, where Ken did his internship and residency. A son, Lawrence “Larry” Noel was born in 1955 before moving to Guerneville, CA for two years, where twin daughters Kelsey Anne and Constance “Connie” Jean were born in1958.
In 1960, Ken moved the family to South Lake Tahoe to join Dr. Jim Whitely in his medical practice. Ken was the second “year-round” doctor in South Lake Tahoe, after Jim. There was no hospital there at that time, so they built a medical office with one or two beds in case someone needed to spend the night under their care. Ken and Jim helped to open Barton Memorial Hospital in 1963, and Ken was the first chief of staff. Ken retired in 1991.
The environment and local politics were important to Ken. He was one of the key players in helping incorporate South Lake Tahoe in 1965. He was appointed to the South Lake Tahoe City Council on January 5, 1971, was elected then in his own right, and then resigned on March 12, 1974. He was mayor for one year starting in spring 1973. He also served on the Planning Commission for about a decade starting in 1983. As avid birders, Ken and Lynne helped found a local chapter of the Audubon Society. They were also involved in founding the Lake Tahoe Historical Society and establishing its first museum, and in the founding of the League to Save Lake Tahoe. In later years, he was an active proponent of the Tahoe Rim Trail, and had hiked most sections of it and served on its association’s board.
While on the city council, Ken was instrumental in the first sign ordinance, which removed billboards as well as rotating and blinking signs from the city streets. He also fought to put the power lines along Highway 50 underground. He served on the boards for the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, the Women’s Center, and many other volunteer organizations . He served as the medical director for Sierra Recovery Center (a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center) and as the President of the Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled.
Ken had a deep love for Lake Tahoe and his community. In his retirement, he loved to go birding with his wife, gardening, taking classes at Lake Tahoe Community College, and volunteering at the local library. He will be sorely missed.
Ken is survived by son Casey (Glenda) of Saratoga, CA; son Larry (Debbie) of Butte, MT; daughter Kelsey (Dale) and their children Allison and Adam of Bakersfield, CA; and Connie (Michael) and their daughter Emilie of Yreka, CA.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife Lynne in 1999; sister, Dr. Jean Harriet Smith Sharp and brother-in-law, Jack Kenton Sharp.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to one’s favorite charity.
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