Sylvia Smith died on Aug. 15, 2016, her 99th birthday.
Mrs. Smith was born in New York City to immigrants from Eastern Europe. She graduated from Hunter College, then the women’s adjunct to the highly selective City College of New York, as a biology major, and was elected to the biology honor society Phi Sigma. In 1943 she married Jacob Smith, whose severe asthma prevented him from serving in World War II and led to their settling in Tucson that same year. After raising her three daughters, she volunteered in the Tucson public schools, working one-on-one with children with reading difficulties, and also worked with recent Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union to help them learn English. She was a long-time member of Congregation Anshei Israel, and was a supporter of multiple Jewish, environmental and medical organizations.
Mrs. Smith was preceded in death by her husband, Jacob, sister, Shirley Youngerman of Tucson, and brother, Melvin Sussman of Philadelphia. Survivors include her daughters, Susan (Jonas) Ellenberg of Philadelphia, Sheila (William Raves) Smith of Tucson and Harriet (Andrew Smith) of Tempe; six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.