HONORING BETTE BELLE SMITH; Congressional Record Vol. 156, No. 15
(Extensions of Remarks - February 02, 2010)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E123]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                       HONORING BETTE BELLE SMITH


                         HON. GEORGE RADANOVICH

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 2, 2010

  Mr. RADANOVICH. Madam Speaker, I rise today to posthumously honor the 
life of Bette Belle Smith. Mrs. Smith passed away on Sunday, November 
29, 2009, at the age of 88.
  Bette Belle Anderson was born at her family's home in Modesto, 
California on January 17, 1921, to Jim and Maysel Anderson. She was 
born severely pigeon-toed and the doctors recommended that she take 
ballet lessons to force her feet to turn outward. At the time, the 
closest dance teachers were in San Francisco. Her parents enrolled her 
in dance lessons, and drove her to San Francisco two weekends per 
month. Her father installed a barre at their home so she could 
  In junior high school, Bette Belle invited a girl with a broken leg 
to come over to her home and practice ballet. This was the beginning of 
the Smith's dancing school. With nearly one hundred students, the 
school outgrew her home; rehearsals were moved to the Elks Hall and Odd 
Fellows Hall. Recitals were held at Modesto High School, with an 
occasional small orchestra, thanks to the help of her brother. Her love 
for the performing arts endured throughout her life.
  Mrs. Smith attended Modesto High School, Modesto Junior College and 
the University of California, Los Angeles. She left UCLA and returned 
to Modesto to help her parents after they were in a car accident. At 
this time, World War II was in full force and Mrs. Smith was the first 
in line to assist. She rolled bandages for the Red Cross, gathered a 
group of her former dance students to perform for convalescing soldiers 
at Awahnee Naval Hospital and what was then Hammond General Hospital in 
Modesto. After the war ended, she married Jean Smith, her longtime 
boyfriend. He had served in Hawaii and in the Gilbert Islands during 
the war, and they corresponded with many letters while he was away.
  In 1954, Mr. and Mrs. Smith had their first child, Talbot, and 
thirteen months later she gave birth to twins, Mary and Tim. Being a 
mom was Mrs. Smith's number one priority, and volunteering was the 
second. She served on the Enslen Elementary School Parent Teacher 
Association, the Rainbow Girls Mothers Club and the Girl Scout Advisory 
Committee. She helped establish a Modesto chapter of American Field 
Service, an organization devoted to international student education. 
Mrs. Smith served on the Modesto Junior College foundation board, and 
volunteered with Omega Nu, The Salvation Army, International Festival 
and Inter-Faith Ministries. She visited with women from the Redwood 
Family Center who were recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. For 
many years she delighted hundreds of children as Mrs. Claus at the 
McHenry Museum, the Modesto Symphony and Enslen School. Of course, her 
love of the arts led her to work with the McHenry Museum Guild, serve 
on the Modesto Symphony board of directors and serve on the Gallo 
Center's original board of trustees as well as a fund development 
committee member. For 70 years she was an active member with the 
Modesto Symphony and was a driving force behind bringing the Gallo 
Center to Modesto.
  At the age of 59, Mrs. Smith went to work. In 1978, a group of 
investors asked for her assistance in chartering the Modesto Banking 
Company. She agreed and coordinated sales events to raise capital for 
the company. Mrs. Smith was named Vice President of Business 
Development and Community Relations for the Modesto Banking Company, 
now U.S. Bank. Although she was working full time, Mrs. Smith continued 
to volunteer and encouraged others to do the same.
  Due to the incredible amount of time that she donated to the city of 
Modesto and her community, Mrs. Smith has received many accolades. In 
2000, California Governor Gray Davis named Mrs. Smith ``Outstanding 
Older Worker of the Year.'' She has also been named the Soroptimist 
Woman of the Year, United Cerebral Palsy ``Volunteer of the Year'', 
American Legion ``Man of the Year'' (now called ``Citizen of the 
Year''), United Way ``Volunteer of the Decade,'' and received the 
Modesto Junior College Distinguished Alumni Award. United Way has named 
an award in her memory, the ``Bette Belle Smith Campaigner of the 
Year'' award and the United Way building has also been named in her 
honor. In Modesto, Mrs. Smith is simply known as ``Mrs. Modesto.''
  Madam Speaker, I invite my colleagues to join me in honoring the life 
of Bette Belle Smith and wishing the best for her family.