(During the past four years I have become good friends with Diane Hale Smith but when I wrote this birthday post about her I really only knew her via Facebook. I’m glad that has changed!)
I’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.
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.
Diane married rather late in life and when she did, she picked wisely. Her husband was local radio legend Lloyd Smith. He had come to WCSS in 1969 as its morning DJ and chief engineer. He outlasted just about everyone else of note at the upper Locust Avenue AM station and became the accepted voice “and the choice” of 1490 on your dial. Lloyd and Diane became one of Amsterdam’s favorite couples. Friends who knew them then have told me they were true soul mates, absolutely enjoying each other’scompany. He passed away in January of 2014.
Having been a Facebook buddy with Diane for several months now I can tell you that she is on a mission to celebrate the beauty of life. I would guess there is very little having to do with nature, culture, spirituality and diversity that this fine and elegant lady would hesitate to explore. She brings her trusty camera with her to every festival, seminar, nature spot, exhibit, concert, ceremony, event and celebration she attends and uses her Facebook page to share their beauty with her friends. She’s the sort of person who looks for the good instead of pointing out the bad. Thank you for being you Diane.