Longtime Haines resident George Ann Smith died of complications from colon cancer on March 6 in her daughter’s home in Eagle Point, Oregon. Her friends and children remembered her for her kindness, her tenacity as a homemaker, her depth of friendships, her abundant energy, and her wealth of stories.

Photo courtesy of family

Smith was born in Snow, Oklahoma in 1939, and graduated high school in Prineville, Oregon in 1957. In 1959, she met her husband, Leo Smith. They married a year later. For the first few years after marriage, George Ann, Leo and children Cindy and Andy lived in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon, where Leo worked mining and logging jobs and George Ann established a home for the family, often in tents or trailers.

In 1963, they moved to Alaska to be part of the booming timber industry. In Alaska, they initially lived on floating logging camps near Sitka and Tenakee Springs, where George Ann homeschooled the children until they moved to Haines in 1966.

In Haines they had a home on Soap Suds Alley in Port Chilkoot and later bought land at 8.5 Mile with friends Paula and Gene Martin. In 1968 they started living in the A-Frame home Leo built at 8.5 Mile and lived there for five years before moving back to Port Chilkoot.

George Ann worked as a bookkeeper for the Alaska Department of Transportation, Haisler Hardware and other local businesses, sold Avon cosmetics, and kept the home running, including preparing meals of locally caught moose and fish. “She was a tremendous cook,” said Andy Smith. She was heavily involved in the local Elks and Emblem clubs, and was a longtime member of the Port Chilkoot Bible Church. Over the years, she entered many of her garden vegetables, knit items and rugs into Southeast Alaska State Fair competitions.
After Leo retired from logging, the couple started a business selling bundled firewood from the front yard of their home by the cruise ship dock. George Ann rarely traveled but loved hosting friends, whom she regaled with stories from her days as a homemaker living in remote Alaska.

“She had a wonderful life. She loved all of it and wouldn’t change anything,” said daughter Cindy Bennett. After Leo died in 2016, she continued to keep a flower garden filled with sunflowers, pansies and other flowers with the help of friends.

George Ann Smith is survived by her two children and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Details for a memorial service in Haines and a burial at Jones Point in the spring or summer of this year will be announced later.