November 1, 2023 – DENTON – Rose Marie O’Brien Smith, Texas Woman’s University alumna, former chair of TWU’s mathematics and computer science departments, professor emeritus and named for a student teacher scholarship, died Sept. 15, 2023. She was 89 years old.
The Rose Marie Smith Scholarship was established by the North Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics in Smith’s honor. This endowment provides two annual scholarships for students during their student teaching experience in mathematics and computer science.
“We wanted to recognize all that Dr. Smith has done to support mathematics education,” said Kathryn Banks, TWU senior lecturer emeritus and president of the North Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “This annual stipend is given to a student to assist them during their semester of student teaching.”
Rose Marie O’Brien was born on March 3, 1934 in Beaumont. After high school, she earned a Bachelor of Music degree 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 the National Science Foundation’s program to promote women in science. After graduating from the program, Smith earned a master’s degree in mathematics from TWU, then a doctorate in education from Oklahoma State, all while becoming a mother of three daughters.
She served at TWU as vice president for public affairs and professor of mathematics, eventually becoming chair of the mathematics department. She also spent a year in Washington, DC directing NSF’s National Teacher Evaluation Program.
“Rose Marie was a very open, honest and very caring person,” Banks said. “I remember him being a great mentor to both students and faculty. Rose Marie was an especially great mentor to those who were teaching math. She helped develop the curriculum that was used in the classes to prepare students to become great math teachers, and she mentored faculty to help design the curriculum. School districts would want to hire our students because they knew they were very well trained.
“I appreciated the mentorship that Rose Marie gave me when I was a new faculty member,” added Banks. “She was one of the faculty who encouraged me to help create, develop and become the director of the Women’s Science and Mathematics Center at TWU. The center was known for our support of local science and maths teachers. We also created Access to Careers in Science Camps for girls in grades 6-11, encouraging girls to pursue careers in science or math. Rose Marie continued to mentor and support my efforts and guide me in writing grants for the ACES Center and Camps.”
Smith was also an accompanist for the Denton Community Choir and sang in the choir of the First United Methodist Church of Denton. 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 by her side.
She is survived by her brother, John O’Brien of Dallas; a daughter, Roseanne and her husband Michael Alvernaz of Missoula, Montana; a daughter, Connie and her husband Glenn Norton of Natalia, Texas; daughter Jennifer to Natalia; two grandchildren, Crystal and her husband Lee Culver of Waxahachie; and Patrick Norton and his wife Jasmine of San Antonio; and four great-grandchildren, Eva, Kyle, Deegan and Declan Calvert of Waxahachie.
Services for Smith were held in San Antonio.