Peg Smith died peacefully in her South Laguna apartment of myeloma
on July 1. She was 85.
Smith wore her beautiful white hair, hanging long over her
shoulders or loosely wrapped back in a graceful bun. She had lots of
clothing and drove around in a classic old tan Mustang convertible
with Sam the poodle always at her side.
Smith had a sharp, quick mind with a warm, loving and funny
personality, her friends said.
“Her Tuesday morning ‘Zinc’ group misses her tremendously and will
keep the memory of Peg alive,” Marilyn Todd said.
Smith was born in Walla Walla, Wash. in 1916. She graduated from
the University of Washington. She was a journalist and editor from
the early 1950s until her retirement in the 80s. She worked for such
papers as The South Coast News, Laguna Beach News Post, the Daily
Pilot, Newport Ensign and This Week in Laguna.
During the early 1980s, Smith published “Day by Day,” an Orange
Coast news and advertising magazine. She will be remembered by some
for her “Ad Landers” question and answer column in The Pennysaver.
Others will remember her as editor of Laguna’s alternative newspaper,
“The Village Sun,” published by Dennis Madison during the early
Smith moved here in 1953 with her two sons Jim and Robert “Lucky”
Smith and immediately found herself involved in many early political
and social causes of Laguna Beach. She worked behind the scenes and
wrote publicity for projects such as the 36-foot height limit on
buildings (preventing Laguna from becoming another Miami Beach),
school board issues, City Council elections and issues like the
heated City Council meetings over banning dogs from the beach. On
this one, political foes became friends depending on whether or not
they had dogs.
More recently she was active on the campaign to save our museum
and worked for the Democratic Party during elections. But most
important to Smith was her collaboration with Jim Dilley in promoting
She was a founder of the local Canyon Club A.A. headquarters.
Describing herself as a hard-drinking newspaper woman in the mid 50s,
she did not like what was happening to her and found the help she
needed in Alcoholics Anonymous. Smith was proud of the role she
played over the years in helping others.
Arnold Hano remembers Smith as a “humanist for social issues and
an activist for environmental greenbelt and political issues.”
Richard Balzer, a close family friend from his childhood years,
remembers Smith as a great mentor and role model, giving him guidance
through a youthful alcohol and drug problem.
“Peg had a strong sense of right and wrong in terms of honesty in
that your word represents you.” Harry Harrison, who visited her daily
the last few months of her life said, “While Peg quietly and
peacefully accepted her demise, to the end she reacted with energy
and emotion if someone told her of the current behavior of some
feckless bureaucrat politician.”
The great tragedy of Smith’s life was the loss of her younger son
at age 17. He was a Laguna Beach High senior, an excellent athlete,
who drowned while spear fishing off of Woods Cove. Her surviving son
Jim Smith of Laguna Beach remembers Smith as a wonderful mother and
said, “I admire and am proud of her contributions to the community.”
She leaves three grandchildren: Hans, Liza and Erika Smith; and three
great-grandchildren: Katrina, Talia and Ryan -- “All of whom adored
her,” said Susan Smith, mother and grandmother of the children.
It was Smith’s wish to be cremated and there will be no memorial
* Smith’s obituary was written by Aileen Goodson.