- Published on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 00:00
- Written by Los Altos Town Crier
Virginia Duncan was born to Titus Duncan and Alison Scott Duncan on Nov. 18, 1913, in Santa Barbara, Calif., where she attended public school with her older sister Alison. Her father had one of the first cars in town and would often take the family on trips in the countryside as well as summer trips to his family in Duluth, Minnesota. After two years at UCLA, she transferred to UC Berkeley where she completed her B.A. in 1937 and did some graduate study in child psychology, specializing in standardized testing. She married a fellow student, Bert Lowell Smith, in 1936 and over the next five years they had twin sons followed by a third son. During World War II, she and a friend operated a day care facility for working mothers. In the 1950s the family made their home in Los Altos in a house they designed and Bert built at the top of Valley View Drive. Towards the end of the decade, Virginia became active in efforts to expand the county library system, eventually serving as a Santa Clara County Library Commissioner, until her husband Bert developed serious heart problems in 1962. As his health improved,
they enjoyed wide-ranging foreign travel, visiting all the continents except Antarctica. This exposure inspired her to volunteer her time teaching English as a Second Language with Mountain View Adult Education. After Bert’s death in 1978, she continued her travels, particularly enjoying Britain and visiting her mother’s relatives in Scotland. In 1992 she became one of the first residents of the Forum at Rancho San Antonio (in Cupertino) and lived out the rest of her life in its very supportive surroundings, while remaining an important presence in the lives of her son Dennis and his family. She died on Nov. 19, 2012, the day after her ninety-ninth birthday. She is survived by her son Duncan L. Smith of San Jose and her son and daughter-in-law Dennis and Martha Smith of Palo Alto along with their sons Grey Lowell and Douglas Smith.