Barbara Spencer Smeltz
Barbara Spencer Smeltz
  • October 11, 1924 - May 6, 2017
  • Keene, New Hampshire

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Barbara Spencer Smeltz of Keene and formerly of Shaker Heights, Ohio, passed away on May 6, 2017, at her home at Bentley Commons in Keene.

She was born in Cambridge, Mass., Oct. 11, 1924, to A.L. "Bud" and Jeanne J. Spencer and had a younger sister, Joan (Brown). She graduated from The Laurel School in 1942 and Sarah Lawrence College in 1945. While at Sarah Lawrence she studied with Theodore Roszak and Joseph Albers, artists whom she greatly admired throughout her life. She returned to Cleveland and taught art at The Laurel School.

On a blind date arranged with friends in 1946, Barbara met John E. Smeltz, a law student and decorated Army veteran, whom she married in 1947. The Smeltzes were married for 62 years, until John's death in 2010. Anyone who saw them dance - jitterbug, especially - could see the spark and fun they shared, and the devotion they had for each other. John and Barbara raised their children, Jay (John Jr.) and Janet, in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Barbara continued to grow as an artist throughout her life. She worked in many forms of visual art, including drawing; painting with oils, acrylics and watercolors; printmaking; collage; and photography. She studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art well into her 80s.

Barbara was a longtime member, volunteer and energetic advocate for five decades at the Cleveland Museum of Art, greeting visitors at the information desk, assisting in the Prints Department and serving on the museum's Women's Council. She nurtured a love of art and museum-going in her children, grandchildren and great-grandson.

Barbara's artistic sense was also on view in her gardening and love of flowers and in her homes. She loved to entertain and was an innovative cook. John and Barbara traveled extensively throughout Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

Barbara is survived by her children, Jay Smeltz and his wife, Julie Dickson, of Keene and Janet Smeltz and her wife, Karen Oil, of Needham Mass.; grandchildren, Hannah Smeltz (Spartan Giordano) of Greenfield, Mass., Andrew Smeltz of Milford and Olivia Smeltz-Oil of Needham; and her great-grandson, Max Giordano of Greenfield. She was predeceased by her husband, John, her parents and her sister.

The family would like to thank staff at Bentley Commons for their dedicated care of and devotion to Barbara. In her final years in Keene, Barbara Smeltz participated in family life and her new community with joy.

A celebration of her life will be held at Bentley Commons, 197 Water St., Keene on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at 2 p.m. All are welcome. Please consider honoring Barbara's life and love of art with a gift to the Cleveland Museum of Art at 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, Ohio 44106 or