Glenda Smith, 73, passed away on March 20, 2020, after a long and courageous battle against numerous illnesses.
Glenda died peacefully in her Thornton home in the presence of her husband of 27 years, Phil.
Glenda was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt to numerous nieces and nephews, and dear friend to many. All who knew her will miss her greatly. But they’ll remember her bravery, strength, kindness, integrity, humor and compassion, even in the face of the many blows life dealt her in her last five years.
Glenda, the fourth of five children of Georgia and Joe Thomas of Willard, Colorado, was born on August 12, 1946, in Sterling. Her brothers, George and Robert, preceded her in death. Her older sisters, Josephine Matros of Thornton and Charlene Wells of Fort Morgan, survive as does Josephine’s husband, Ken. Charlene’s husband, Jim, passed away earlier.
Steve Helbert was born in 1965, to Glenda and her first husband, Jim Helbert. Steve and his wife, Siri Mehus, have one daughter, Mina, and live in Seattle. Steve has two other children, Dylan and Caleb.
Glenda grew up on a dryland farm in remote northeastern Colorado. Graduating from Merino High School in 1964 and Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina in 1970, Glenda embarked on a 20-year journalism career. She worked as a photographer at the Salina Journal and the Hutchinson News in Kansas, then as a reporter, columnist, feature writer and copy editor at The Olympian in Olympia, Washington. In 1981 she won an award in Northwest regional competition from the Society of Professional Journalists. She took third place for a series of three articles she wrote titled “Shannon Sees With New Eyes.”
She met Phil, then living in Boise, in 1990 when both were working for Gannett Newspapers in Washington, D.C. She dated Phil for two years before their wedding on June 26, 1992, in Estes Park, Colorado. They lived in Boise for two years, where Glenda and Phil worked at The Idaho Statesman, before moving back to Colorado in 1994. After her newspaper career, Glenda began the second phase of her career as a customer representative and front-desk receptionist. She retired in February 2010.
Glenda loved to sing and had a lovely alto voice. At Kansas Wesleyan one year, she sang in three different choirs. The highlight of her college years was when she was part of a touring choir that performed in Methodist churches around the country. At one of these concerts, she was selected to sing a solo in the hymn Beautiful Savior before the song’s composer. It was one of the high honors of her life.
One of the favorite stories she liked to tell was the time she was taking a vocal test in the school’s auditorium. It was a busy time, with students going to and from classes. But they stopped and listened as her voice rose to the rafters. The experience made Glenda’s heart soar.
She was liable to burst into song at any time – usually one about a young Irish rake whose father disowned him because he loved the girls and the whiskey a little too much. Her favorite singer was Judy Collins. Glenda related to Collins, who like Glenda had a child at a young age. Glenda’s favorite song was Collins’ “Someday Soon,” about a young girl who falls in love with a rodeo cowboy against her father’s wishes.
Glenda had a scampish sense of humor. She liked to talk like a duck and did a mean impression of Daffy. You had to be there to listen to her doing Gabby Hayes, the garble-voiced Western actor, singing “O Sole Mio.”
She loved to get dressed up for Halloween and wore costumes at work such as the Grim Receptionist, the Killer Bee-Ceptionist and a 1960s hippie, with a tie-dyed dress, long blonde wig and babushka.
Glenda was full of life and joy, and spread that joy to all she met. She was a woman of faith and a member of the Calvary Free Church of Broomfield. She was a member of two groups of women, one consisting of ex-employees of Land Title Guarantee and a second group calling themselves the Smart Women’s Group. With Phil, she had been a member of the referral group Your Networking Universe and of the Westminster Chamber of Commerce.
Before Glenda got ill, she and Phil loved to travel. They visited many of the national parks in the West, took ferries to Orcas Island in the San Juans and Victoria, British Columbia, soaked in hot springs across Colorado and rode almost every tourist train in the state. They loved going to the theatre and to movies.
Glenda’s family would like to express their gratitude to Bridges Homecare and Hospice, which took such good care of her in her final weeks and continues to support Phil.