Zona Kay Smith, 78
Zona Kay Smith, 78, was born March 21, 1937, in Spokane, Wash. She passed away Feb. 2, 2015, in Moses Lake, Wash., where she resided with her son, Karl Smith and family. Zona was the oldest of four children born to Kenneth and Evelyn Hull Nilson and the family called Greenacres, Wash., home. Zona loved caring for her younger brothers and sister, Charles, Larry and Kari, and that caring nature took her to southern California her senior year of high school to help her aunt Thelma care for her two young daughters, Karen Forbes and Gail Giorgi.
That year in California sparked an interest for Zona that would last a lifetime, as she learned to draw and paint in art classes that were available in a big school. Never shy, Zona made the bold move to surprise a young sailor from Greenacres when his naval ship docked in San Diego. It was the beginning of a relationship that would endure their entire lives. Zona married Walter Emmett Smith July 16, 1955, after her high school graduation. They began married life in Greenacres, but by 1957 they moved to Hunters, Wash., where they raised three children, Wendy, Karl and Kim. Emmett and Zona ranched as a team, but Zona always cultivated her own interests as time allowed.
She volunteered countless hours at the local school teaching art and encouraging students to develop their own talent. Her basement was always filled with the latest arts and crafts projects and she had a knack for it all. Zona also took on volunteer work in the PTA locally and on a state level, serving as a vice president for the Washington State PTA for several years. She was also appointed to the Washington State Cultural Enrichment Board and enjoyed the travel that position included. Zona served on the Hunters Fair Board and was a 4-H leader.
Zona enjoyed entertaining family and friends and the ranch in Hunters was often the location of reunions and parties. She believed in having the coffee on and the cookie jar full at all times, just in case of company, and that never changed. When Zona and Emmett made the decision to pursue their next big adventure, Dixie Outfitters, her hostess and cooking skills were keys to their success. Zona made friends easily and living in the mountains of Idaho was no different. It also gave her more hours to paint and volunteer. She never stopped learning and growing as oil and acrylic paints were now set aside for watercolors. Zona enjoyed being a member of the Idaho Water Color Society and loved traveling to workshops. The years in Dixie, she experienced a burst of creativity and production that surpassed any other time in her life, painting perhaps hundreds of pieces.
Moving to Cambridge in 2000 was another opportunity to seek out new friends, and Zona quickly made friends with many of the local artists and craftsmen. She became active with the Cambridge Commercial Club and Hells Canyon Art Guild and enjoyed the local shows and activities. Zona continued to create art, even when her failing health challenged her fine motor skills. In 2013 Zona moved to live with her son, Karl, and felt blessed to be at home with family and have little great-grandchildren to entertain her.
Zona is survived by her aunt, Thelma Gibson; brother, Charles Nilson; sister, Kari Nilson; children, Wendy Taylor, Nampa; Karl and Debbie Smith of Moses Lake; Steve and Kim Royer of Cambridge; seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Zona is also survived by Emmett’s siblings, Mavis Baum, Neal and Donna Smith and Lynn Smith and Steve Richardson.
Zona was preceded in death by her loving husband, Emmett; her parents; and her brother, Larry Nilson.
A celebration of Zona’s life will be held July 18 in Hunters, Wash., where family and friends will gather to remember the life of a remarkable lady!
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