Carolyn "Aladeen" Smith

January 30th, 1923October 12th, 2019

Carolyn Aladeen Smith, nee Brown, died peacefully on October 12 in her home in Boulder, Colorado, surrounded by her devoted children and grandchildren.  Known for her grace, humor and warmth, she led a life full of family, friends and travel, and touched the lives of many in her years working at the University of Colorado.     

Aladeen, as she was known to all, was born in a logging camp in Bend, Oregon on January 30, 1923, to Benjamin and Caroline Brown. Aladeen was actually born with the first name Caroline but later changed it to Carolyn. When she was eight years old, her father was killed in a logging accident leaving Aladeen's mother to raise four children at the height of the Great Depression.  Aladeen spent her early years in Portland, Oregon, but moved to Santa Barbara, California to live with her uncle, Wilfred Orr, and his family while finishing high school and attending Santa Barbara State College (which later became UC Santa Barbara) from which she graduated in 1944.  Following her graduation, she moved with her uncle and his family to San Francisco where she began teaching junior high school. She later recalled that many of her students at the time were children of guards who worked at the federal prison on Alcatraz Island. It was in a bar in San Francisco in 1945 that Aladeen met and eventually fell in love with a handsome young sailor fresh from naval battles in the Pacific theater.  She and Daniel Malloy Smith were married in January 1946 and moved across the Bay where Dan attended the University of California at Berkeley from which he received his Ph.D. in History in 1954. Aladeen continued to teach public school in Rodeo, California until the birth of their first child in 1950.  

Dan was teaching in the Western Civilization program at Stanford University when he was offered an appointment in the History Department at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  Aladeen and Dan moved to Boulder in 1957 where they joined a group of extraordinary young faculty members and their families – the Paulsons, Bowes, Weirs, and Braddocks among others, all living in faculty housing, who became life-long friends.  This group made a lasting impact on the culture, social life and politics of Boulder. Although Aladeen always missed her beloved Pacific Ocean, which she visited often, she lived the remainder of her life in Boulder. Many other friends continued to enter her life, including her godson Michael Hill and his brother Boyd “Buck” Hill. 

Aladeen earned a Master of Arts in English from C.U.  in 1971, and subsequently began a labor of love working in the English Department in Boulder as an administrative assistant and student advisor.  One of the highlights of her career was the opportunity to serve on Semester at Sea in Spring of 1980, which combined her two passions for travel and education as she sailed around the world.  In 1985, she received the Robert L. Stearns Award from the University of Colorado Alumni Association for her service to the University. Her citation noted that "She brings to her work not only an awe-inspiring proficiency and dedication, but a warm, genuine human concern of which no institution can have too much."  Her favorite expression to faculty and students alike was "bless your heart." Aladeen received the "Outstanding Undergraduate Advisor" award for 1988-89 presented by the University of Colorado at Boulder Council on Academic Advising. When she retired from the English Department in 1991, her colleagues held a party in her honor where she received a book filled with best wishes from faculty and students alike.  Professor Rubin Rabinowitz captured the feelings of many with his definition of "Aladeen" as a noun: "A provident angel; a creature of divine or magical abilities." 


The extraordinary friendships she developed over the years were always a source of joy, and she never hesitated to take in friends in need, leading one English Department colleague to once say “Wouldn’t we all like to live with Aladeen?”


After her retirement, Aladeen continued to pursue her passions for travel, music (especially opera) and reading. She made frequent trips to Europe, to New Mexico to attend the Santa Fe Opera, and to Oregon and California to reconnect with the Pacific, often with her beloved cousin Jean Crow, visiting over 45 countries on 5 continents.  She also worked part-time for many years with her good friend, Jan Weir, as a lexicon editor for AdWriter Inc., a subsidiary of Douthit Communications.   And still after that, she taught ESL with another longtime friend Joan Knaub at Boulder’s YES School.

Aladeen is preceded in death by her husband, Dan, and her siblings Alvin, Floyd and Gwen. She is survived by her daughter, Stephanie Smith Hult of Boulder (whose husband Jim Hult predeceases), her son Ambassador Daniel Bennett Smith (and wife Diane) of Falls Church, Virginia; and her son Gregory Malloy Smith (and husband Jack Monroe) of San Francisco.  She is also survived by her four beloved grandchildren: Caroline Hult and her husband Elliott Hood; Andrew Smith; Erik Smith and his wife Amanda Smith; and Troy Smith; as well as one great-grandchild, Alden Hood. 

We are very grateful to Halcyon Hospice for helping her in the last few weeks.

Her family would have liked to have had this extraordinary woman with them forever; we will have the gift of having had her for the rest of our lives. A celebration of Aladeen’s life will happen in Boulder over Martin Luther King Weekend in January. Please email Greg at [email protected] for more information.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Brightfocus Foundation to help fight macular degeneration.  










Her memory will never be erased for all the days of my life. Paul Levitt
Aladeen was one of the kindest and most gracious people I have ever met. The world is less gentle without her presence.
I so enjoyed getting to know Aladeen over the last few decades, eating holiday meals, indulging in competitive game playing and enjoying lively conversation in a splendid group of like minded individuals. She and her family were a staunch support during my own family difficulties, for which I will be forever grateful. Aladeen was a delight to spend time with and she will be missed, even by those like me, on the periphery of her wide and engaging world. I know her joy in life will be carried forward by the loving family she left behind. Peace and blessings.
I once said to Aladeen that it “was SO bad that we didn’t see each other more often; it is always like dropping into a warm comfort zone instantly, with endless things to discuss...catch up on...learn”. I adored and respected her and I will miss her. Life is short and precious and the gift of friendship is crucial. Pat Muckle
I'm so glad I knew this marvelous lady. Aladeen was always gracious especially when we were growing up and we pushed the limits of teen behavior. The more we pushed the limits, the more gracious she became.Greg,thank you for sharing your mom.