Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Colleen Marie Smith

Colleen Marie Smith immersed herself in arts world

ST. PETERSBURG — The night before her open-heart surgery last week, Colleen Smith called a friend with an urgent request.

She wanted her hair colored.

Alysia Wenckoski said Ms. Smith wanted her hair turned hot tamale red, "so I can look hot for the doctors." Wenckoski did the job at Bayfront Medical Center.

About 40 friends, many of them artists, gathered Tuesday at Demens Landing to remember Ms. Smith, who promoted their work as if she had a personal stake in the outcome.

They stood in a circle, singing spirituals and telling stories.

Ms. Smith emerged poorly from the surgery, and died Saturday. She was 56.

Ms. Smith came to St. Petersburg from Michigan as a toddler. She had asthma, and often read books while other children played.

"She always read. She was in the middle of five books at a time," said her sister, Alison Christy. The sisters also followed the rock group the Monkees, since its inception in 1966.

Ms. Smith attended public schools and graduated from the University of South Florida. From 1980 to 2004, she worked as a library assistant for the St. Petersburg Library, mostly at the Mirror Lake branch.

She spread herself thin in artistic endeavors: directing Kidz Show on public access television; singing in the Tampa Bay Opera chorus; and as a stage manager for the Country Dinner Playhouse and for Sterling Powell's Peep Show, a 1996 dance and comedy event.

For the past six years she worked odd jobs and served as managing editor of CitiLife St. Petersburg Magazine, a creation of close friend Sterling Powell.

Ms. Smith was also co-authoring a book about the history of art in St. Petersburg. Since March she had started working for the Royal Theater Boys and Girls Club Arts Academy, directing children in plays and helping them put out a newspaper.

She bought the art she could afford and talked up the rest. "Since she didn't have a lot of money to purchase things, she wanted to support creativity by letting people know about each other," said JoEllen Schilke, owner of the Globe Coffeehouse. "She wrote for people's newsletters. She connected people."

At Demens Landing, Powell read condolences from Mayor Rick Baker and Ms. Smith's favorite Monkee, Peter Tork, who called Ms. Smith "a journalist and fan of mine with whom I had some most interesting conversations."

"Even just here on Facebook, we are lesser for not having her lively intelligence among us," Tork wrote.

Under the last of the day's heat, the group walked to the water's edge and released brightly colored balloons. The balloons drifted toward the Pier, and disappeared.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or


Colleen Marie Smith

Born: Aug. 22, 1952.

Died: July 18, 2009.

Survivors: mother, Genevieve Smith; sisters, Lesley White Potts, Alison Christy; three nieces; one nephew; and cat, Ariel.

Service: 11 a.m. Friday; Whitfield Funeral Home, 5008 Gall Blvd., Zephyrhills.

Colleen Marie Smith immersed herself in arts world 07/22/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Kriseman proclaims Buy Local week in St. Pete to quicken storm recovery


    Mayor Rick Kriseman has proclaimed next week to be "'Burg Buy Local Week" in an appeal to residents to help small businesses struggling to recover from Hurricane Irma.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman wants St. Pete residents to help small businesses recover from Hurricane Irma
  2. Only one Hernando County school needs schedule adjustment after Irma


    Hernando County public school students missed seven days of classes because of Hurricane Irma.

    Challenger K-8 School served as a Hernando County shelter during Hurricane Irma. Students returned to classes Monday, and won't need to make up any missed time.
  3. Editorial: Ready to put Irma behind? Maybe it's time to get ready, instead


    One can only marvel now, looking back at the radar image of Hurricane Irma whirling and jerking north between Tampa and Orlando and leaving two of Florida's major population centers with only scattered damage from its high winds.

    A hand-painted sign signals a West Tampa homeowner's resolve as Hurricane Irma approached the Tampa Bay Area on Sept. 10. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times]
  4. Investigation launched into HHS Secretary Tom Price's travel on charter jets


    Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will face an inspector general's investigation into his reported use of chartered jets for at least two dozen flights in recent months at taxpayer expense.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will face an inspector general's investigation into his reported use of chartered jets for at least two dozen flights in recent months at taxpayer expense. A spokeswoman for HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson told The Washington Post on Friday that the agency will request records of Price's travel and review the justification made by Price and his staff for the trips, which reportedly cost taxpayers a combined $300,000. [Associated Press]
  5. Bucs-Vikings: What if O.J. Howard and Dalvin Cook had both been taken?


    So what if the Bucs had taken neither O.J. Howard nor Dalvin Cook with the 19th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft?