Funeral is held for Otley community stalwart Stella

Funeral is held for Otley community stalwart Stella

Stella Smith hillwalking with her husband Jack

Stella Smith at work in a pristine Otley Library

Stella Smith reading to a group of local children, including her daughters Christine, seated on floor second from right, and Katherine, seated middle row, second from right

First published in News Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by

The funeral of a woman who was a familiar face to generations of book-lovers and local historians in Otley has taken place.

A service for Otley Museum stalwart, retired librarian, WRVS volunteer and avid reader Stella Smith was held at Rawdon Crematorium yesterday.

Mrs Smith, who lost her husband Jack eight years ago, died on September 28, aged 83.

An Otley resident since the age of four, she was a mother of two, though sadly lost one of her daughters, Katherine, 15 years ago. She was also a grandmother to four and great-grandmother to three.

Mrs Smith, who became a secretary after leaving Prince Henry’s Grammar School, began working at Otley Library, where she served on the counter and ran a children’s story hour, in the 1950s. Later in her career she worked in the library headquarters on Station Road and then at Guiseley.

She was a staunch supporter of Otley Museum for much of her life.

Her surviving daughter, Christine, said: “Mum spent nearly 30 years volunteering for Otley Museum, which she loved, retiring only last year.

“One of the last tasks she undertook for them was to write down a view of some of the main streets, like Westgate or Kirkgate, from the 1950s or 1960s, listing all the shops, who owned them and what they sold.

“Her memory was fantastic and she was well used as an archive for the museum. When anyone came in and asked a question they often phoned Stella to find out the answer. Mum could also be seen most years manning the museum stall from my parents’ motor caravan at Otley Carnival.

“She volunteered for the WRVS at the tea bar at Wharfedale Hospital, helped out with Talking Books and enjoyed manning the polling booth, usually at Westgate Primary School, at election time. Recently she went out in the evening as a member of the Book Club at Otley Library and attended the cinema and fish supper evenings at the Courthouse.

“Mum was very family oriented and with her husband participated in many Otley activities. They both enjoyed their walking holidays in the Dales and the Lake District.

“She seems to me to have been someone who led a full life in the community in which she lived, quietly contributing throughout her life, and she will be sorely missed.”

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