Wilma Dugan Smith
July 28, 1944 – October 14, 2021
Wilma Dugan Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 28, 1944. She was the youngest of Gerald and Wilma Dugan’s seven children, following Colleen, Gerald, Jr., Michael, Dennis, Mary Jo, and Patrick. As the baby of the family, she alleges she was forced to sit in a highchair at the family dinner table until she was 21, although this was never corroborated.
Her love for the Servants of Mary cannot be understated. She thrived at Marian High School, where she was part of the first full four-year graduating class. Her Senior year, she was Marian Girl of the Year, Marian’s highest honor; the community later bestowed upon her the Alumnae of the Year award. Upon graduating from Marian, Wilma entered the Servants of Mary as a novice. After a year in the convent, Wilma’s discernment led her away from a religious vocation and directed her to the Education Department at Creighton. She later said leaving the convent was one of the hardest decisions of her life, but she always felt welcomed and at home with the Servants of Mary. Wilma later matriculated from Creighton University, where she met and ultimately married Dennis E. Smith.
Wilma began teaching after graduation and always cherished her students. She loved telling stories about her challenges and triumphs. She opened several schools, including Burke High School, where she also taught speech and directed musicals. Her favorites included “The King and I” and “The Sound of Music.”
Together, she and Dennis had four children: Shane, Shannon, Ryan, and Corey (married to Karen Popp), and were proud grandparents of Brady, Dugan, and Cecelia. She taught her family how to laugh, tell stories, and sing all the songs from the aforementioned musicals.
Wilma was a consummate educator, lover of the English language and the international phonetic Alphabet. Her most passionate conviction held that the world would be better if everyone embraced the Oxford Comma. A teacher at home as well as the classroom, she often tortured her children by forcing them to diagram sentences “just for fun!”
After her children were in school, Wilma headed back into the workforce, first as co-leader of the St. Robert’s Youth Group with Dennis, and later as DRE at the parish. Wilma ended her career as DRE at Ss. Peter and Paul parish, and then relaxed into her retirement.
Known for her sense of humor and gift for storytelling, Wilma held court at her kitchen table, with her cigarettes and coffee in the morning, switching to cigarettes and diet decaffinated pop (preferably flat!) after noon. She was “Fun Aunt Wilma” and the door to the Smith house was always open—everyone was welcome! Her nieces, Jen Taute and Deb Marcil, once gave her a t-shirt that proclaimed, “Just call me Aunt Wilma…everyone else does.”
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; and her brothers: Gerald, Michael, and Patrick. She is survived by her siblings and their spouses; nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews; countless friends; and many former students.
VIGIL SERVICE: Tuesday, October 19th at 7pm at the West Center Chapel, with family receiving friends from 5pm to 7pm. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Wednesday, October 20th at 10:30am at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church (11802 Pacific Street). Interment: Omaha National Cemetery
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Marian High School or St. Robert Bellarmine’s Religious Education program.
You can also cue up “The Sound of Music” and imagine Wilma blissfully singing along with the soundtrack…. and perhaps giving you a few pointers on how to sing as well… directing you to “PROJECT TO THE BACK OF THE THEATER! LET THEM HEAR YOUR VOICE!”