Mrs. Ardell Marie Smith

April 20, 1941April 26, 2021

Ardell M. Smith of Portland, Oregon passed away on April 26, 2021. She was 80 years old.

Ardell was born to Harold and Lillian Rath on April 20, 1941 in Leola, South Dakota, the first of five siblings, and she grew up on a farm near the small town of Long Lake. The family spoke German at home, and after her first day in a one-room schoolhouse, the teacher informed Harold and Lillian that Ardell could not return until she learned English. She did, of course, and later told stories of riding to the schoolhouse through snow-covered fields, bundled in blankets with her sister Bonnie in the back of a horse-drawn wagon.

Ardell’s life on the farm was filled with hard work: milking cows, picking rocks, and cutting and stacking hay. But there was plenty of fun too, and many good times — and a fair amount of mischief —with her siblings and cousins. Ardell loved sharing her farm stories at family gatherings, and her enthusiasm, as well as her distinctive laugh, could not be contained.

After graduating from Leola High School in 1959, Ardell and her cousin LaDonna got on a bus and headed west to Los Angeles. From California, Ardell made her way north to Portland, Oregon and stayed with an aunt, Olivia, who handed her a newspaper, dropped her off downtown and told her to get a job. Ardell did, quickly finding work as a secretary, and Portland became home.

Before long, Ardell met a fellow named Roy Smith. Legend has it that Roy was driving his Cadillac through Portland one rainy afternoon and saw two damp but good-looking gals standing on the sidewalk: Ardell and sister Bonnie, who had also high-tailed it off the farm to join her sister on the west coast. He pulled over, offered them a ride, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ardell married Roy on September 26, 1963, and their son Michael was born in 1966. Roy and Ardell shared many good years together. They drove to the Oregon coast every weekend, to play golf at Seaside and to relax with friends. No matter where she went, it seemed, Ardell knew someone. People were drawn to her for her energy, for her farm-girl-in-the-big-city charm, and of course, for her laugh. She always had a big hug for everyone.

Ardell was a devoted mother to her son Mike and took great pride in all of his accomplishments. She kept a spotless home, and was known for her goulash, her chili soup, and her pickles. After Roy died in 2001, Ardell worked as a home health care aid for many years, and truly enjoyed this work. She never left home unless she was all fixed up with lipstick, jewelry, and a nice outfit, and she loved spending time with friends at favorite spots around town, including the Wan Q and the Chiam.

Ardell is survived by her son Little Mike, her dog Topaz, her three sisters Bonnie, Luan and Evelyn, and her brother Big Mike. They were all were able to spend time with Ardell — their mother and big sister — in her final days, and she stayed strong and full of spirit to the end, celebrating her 80th birthday shortly before passing. She will be missed.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Mrs. Ardell Marie Smith

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Evelyn Swank

April 28, 2021

Ardell, Since the time you have left this house
There is a void in my heart which I can feel.
My sister things are not the same without you.
I feel so restless and there is nothing left to do.
You were my smile everyday and
you were my inspiration to strive.
My lovely sister and best friend, I am missing you so much
I love you!
Evelyn swank