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!”
I am grateful to have known Wilma at Christ the King & Marian – many good memories although I had not seen her in many years.
What a lovely woman and wonderful tribute. Mr. Smith was the coach of the Colleens and Mrs. Smith would host and judge sleep over beauty contests. I am so glad she was such an important part of my childhood. My love and respect to all of you.
Um so very sorry for your loss. I had the great privilege to know Wilma thru my Aunt Susie Dugan and her brothe and my Uncle, Patrick Dugan. She always had a smile and stories to tell.
I loved Wilma’s cemented dedication to family, friends, and laughter. I cannot remember ever speaking with her that we didn’t laugh-sometimes inappropriately,- but always in good fun and kindness. May she stir things up in heaven and the next thunder I hear will be her laughter.
My heartfelt condolences to your entire family! I attended Marian with Wilma and way back then, I began my 9th grade in what was long ago called the Juniorate, a Servite program of early vocation discernment! I did not ultimately become a nun, but loved my experience. Wilma was an amazing person and a wonderful friend. Ultimately, I married a good friend and perhaps boyfriend of hers. His name was Michael Smith. We both ended up Smiths. I moved from Omaha after Michael and I married, to Indiana, Minnesota., Washington State, where I taught middle school English in a Catholic school, where I also produced plays. Finally, my husband and I retired to Arizona. We lost Michael almost four years ago. Our paths were very similar! I was so lucky to know your mom, sister and aunt’. She was a very special light! And now she glows elsewhere! God bless!
So sorry to learn of Wilma Ann’s passing. She was the baby of our seven cousins. I k ow she will be missed by family and all who knew her. She leaves behind a strong legacy of education and joy. Cousin Sandy
I was so saddened to read of Wilma Ann’s passing. She was the youngest of our Dugan cousin no. She leaves behind a legacy of education and joyful ness. She will be missed by family and all who knew her
My Aunt Wilma gave the most awesome hugs ever. When we would visit Omaha she was always genuinely happy to see me with a smile on her face. I remember her being all about family and that she had a strong faith. Her values never wavered. My fondest memory of my Aunt Wilma is when I would call her house and she would answer. She would always say “Tim, you sound just like your father.” It always made me so proud when she said that to me. I am tearing up as I write this. 🙁 🙁 May her memory be eternal!
Sending my deepest condolences during this difficult time. Prayers to the family
We just learned of Wilma’s passing. Our condolences to all of the family. She was a fun lady.
Sharon Gude and Ann Fiedler (Denny’s cousins)