Susan K. Smith was born March 1, 1955 in Akron, the daughter of Don and Ruby (Ahrens) Gabel. She was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith. Growing up, she attended school in Hawarden where she graduated from West Sioux Community School in 1973. During school, Susan worked for Otis Radio and would babysit for several different families. In 1973, Susan met LeRoy L. Thompson, Jr. in Hawarden and that summer she moved to Fort Thompson, S.D., and began working for the Big Bend Store and Motel.
On Nov. 7, 1973, Susan was united in marriage with LeRoy. They made their home in Fort Thompson where Susan helped raise three step-sons as well as her daughter LeAnn Whisper, who was born to them on Friday Oct. 13, 1978.
She worked at the Crow Creek High School and then the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Health Department as a W.I.C. Coordinator. Susan began her career with the Crow Creek Headstart program as a teacher and in 1986, was instrumental in getting the program restored and operating again. She became the Director of the Headstart Program which she continued to do until her health forced her retirement in 2005.
On Dec. 31, 1991, Susan was united in marriage to Gary Smith at Pierre, S.D. Together, they made their home in Chamberlain.
Gratefully sharing in her life are her husband Gary Smith of Chamberlain; daughter LeAnn Whisper Ruddy and husband Tom of Chamberlain; her grandchildren; Natasha, Zoe and Skyler; mother Ruby of Georgia; her stepmother Marcella Gabel of Hawarden; three stepsons, Patrick Grey Owl, Raymond Grey Owl, and Doug Grey Owl all of Fort Thompson, S.D.; two sisters Teresa Book and husband Bob of Akron, and Gerri Day and husband Jerald of Canton, S.D.; a brother Steve Gabel and wife Michele of Elk Point, S.D.; three half sisters Angie and husband Dave of Arkansas, Jody and husband Fred of Georgia and Bobbie of Georgia; a special friend, LeRoy Thompson and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her father.
Funeral services were held Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 10:30 a.m. at the United Church of Christ in Chamberlain with burial in the Riverview Cemetery at Chamberlain. Visitation was held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fort Thompson Community Center in Fort Thompson on Monday, Feb. 4 and it resumed at 6 p.m. at the United Church of Christ in Chamberlain with a prayer service at 7 p.m.
Hickey-Wevik Funeral Home of Chamberlain, was in charge of arrangements.