Former TWU math, computer science chair Rose Marie Smith had high impact

Nov. 1, 2023 – DENTON – Rose Marie O'Brien Smith, Texas Woman's University alumna, former chair of TWU's Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science, professor emerita and for whom a scholarship for student teachers was named, passed away on Sept. 15, 2023. She was 89 years old.

The Rose Marie Smith Endowed Scholarship was established by the North Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics to honor Smith. This endowment provides two annual scholarships for students during their student teaching experience in mathematics and computer science.

"We wanted to acknowledge all that Dr. Smith had done to support mathematics education," said Catherine Banks, TWU senior lecturer emeritus and president of the North Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics. "This yearly scholarship is given to a student to help them during their semester of student teaching."

Rose Marie O'Brien was born March 3, 1934, in Beaumont. After high school, she earned a bachelor's degree in music from Lamar University. She met Charlie Smith on a blind date, and they were married by Charlie's father the day after they graduated from Lamar.

They moved to Grapevine, where they taught math and music. She was invited by TWU for its National Science Foundation program promoting women in the sciences. After completing the program, Smith earned a master's degree in math from TWU, then a PhD in education from Oklahoma State, accomplishing all this while becoming a mother of three daughters.

She worked at TWU as vice president of public affairs and a math professor, ultimately becoming chair of the Mathematics Department. She also spent a year in Washington, D.C., overseeing the NSF's National Teacher's Appreciation program.

"Rose Marie was very open, honest and a very caring individual," Banks said. "I remember her being a great mentor to both students and faculty. Rose Marie was especially a great mentor to those who were mathematics education faculty. She helped develop the curriculum that was used in the classes to prepare students to become great mathematics teachers and she mentored the faculty to help deliver the curriculum. School districts would want to hire our students because they knew they were very well trained.

"I appreciated the mentoring that Rose Marie gave me when I was a new faculty member," Banks added. "She was one of the faculty who encouraged me to help create, develop and become the director of the Science and Mathematics Center for Women at TWU. The Center was known for our support of local science and math teachers. We also created the Access to Careers in the Sciences Camps for girls in grades 6-11, encouraging girls to pursue a science or math career. Rose Marie continued to mentor me and supported my efforts and guided me in writing grants for the Center and the ACES camps."

Smith was also the accompanist for the Denton Community Chorus, and sang in the choir at Denton's First United Methodist Church. Smith retired in 1996, and she and her husband moved to Galveston. Charlie passed away in 2018.

Rose Marie passed away with her daughter Connie at her side.

She is survived by her brother, John O'Brien of Dallas; daughter Rozanne and her husband Michael Alvernaz of Missoula, Montana; daughter Connie and her husband Glenn Norton of Natalia, Texas; daughter Jennifer of Natalia; two grandchildren, Crystal and her husband Lee Calver of Waxahachie; and Patrick Norton and his wife, Jasmin, of San Antonio; and four great-grandchildren, Eva, Kyle, Deegan and Declan Calvert of Waxahachie.

Services for Smith were held in San Antonio.

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Page last updated 8:59 AM, November 1, 2023