July 20 – Happy Birthday Diane Hale Smith

11224714_10153340312487049_5400810340952192255_nI’ve really only met Dianne Hale Smith in passing but each time I’ve passed her, she’s been deeply immersed in the activity or event we were attending at the time. We’re also “friends” on Facebook and it is because of that virtual connection that I’ve come to realize just how interested and curious she is about people, art, cultures and spirituality in general.

Her father was still a corporal in the US Army when today’s Birthday Celebrant was born on July 20, 1945. Fayette Hall Jr, a salesman for the West End Brewing Co, would be tragically killed in a Vails Mills car accident when Diane was just twelve years old. Her mom, Dorothy Johnson Hale was the daughter of a Swedish immigrant named Karl August Johanesson,who had migrated to Amsterdam in the late 1800’s and became a chauffeur for some prominent Amsterdam families. According to a great article about him written by local historian Bob Cudmore, at one time, he was also part-owner of one of Amsterdam’s early automobile garages, which in addition to selling and servicing cars, offered overnight parking spaces. He was known for his honesty and his intense curiosity. He read the Bible from start to finish four different times and devoured each issue of National Geographic. He died of a heart attack in 1955, still excited about the prospect of man walking on the moon some day.

10690000_10152740091807049_2542698928393525556_n
Amsterdam’s own “Shirley Temple”

So Diane was raised mostly by her mother in a world that revolved around Academy Street. She lived on that Market Hill thoroughfare (and still does). She attended Academy Street School and hung around that institution’s playground all summer. She also had Shirley Temple type cuteness as a little girl. Actually, judging from some of her childhood pictures I’ve seen posted on Facebook, young Diane might have even been a bit cuter than young Temple. She would later graduate from Amsterdam High School in 1963, a classmate of Cudmore’s. She attended Hope College, where she won a contest to select an inscription for a new campus statue during her freshman year and became a Theology major. She had thought about entering the ministry as a career but became a teacher instead, eventually landing at Fulton Montgomery Community College. For many years, she ran FMCC’s satellite classroom at Amsterdam’s Centro Civico agency on East Main Street, teaching English to folks who could not  speak it.

Mrs. Smith married rather late in life and when she did, she picked wisely. Her husband was local radio legend Lloyd Smith…

(My big brother was also born on July 20.)

My complete birthday post for Diane Hale Smith will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. I also distribute an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that includes the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty  people whose birthdays I recognize each month. Each newsletter also includes an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.

The monthly newsletter is free. If you’d like to receive it, just make sure your name and e-mail address are included on this list.

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