Cover photo for Norene A.  Smith's Obituary
Norene A.  Smith Profile Photo

Norene A. Smith

d. April 17, 2014

Smith, Norene A., Ph.D.

Norene A. Smith, 84, of Onalaska died Thursday, April 17, 2014, at Kindred Hospital, St. Petersburg, Florida following a short illness.

Norene Alys was born on April 22, 1929 to Lorene (Behrens) Smith and Norris T. Smith in Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Iowa in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Physical Education for Women, was awarded her Master of Arts Degree in Guidance and Counseling in 1959 from the State College of Iowa (now the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa) and subsequently her Ph.D. in Counseling and Student Development from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa in 1967. She also completed graduate work at the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York.

Norene had an extensive and impressive career as a teacher, counselor and university administrator. From 1951 to 1961 she taught physical education in Davenport, Iowa and physical education and served as a counselor in Madison, Wisconsin. She also worked for a time as a program director at the YMCA in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Enthusiasm for helping students adjust to campus life led Norene to accept the position as the first Assistant Dean of Women at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1961. During that time, Norene developed the National Sorority Program, Panhellenic Council and Ratom Women’s Academic Honor Society. Always putting students first, Norene initiated and created the UW-L Counseling and Testing Center and served as the first director of the center. She also authored the College Student Personnel Master’s Program and served as the first chairperson. Today the program is known as the Student Affairs Administration Program. In 1978, after completing an administrative internship with UW System Administration, she advanced to the position of Executive Director of University Outreach, now the Office of Continuing Education. Norene retired in 1985 as professor emeritus and Associate Dean of Students and was working as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Vice Chancellor.

Norene worked diligently, continuously took on new challenges, and paved the way for women at UW-La Crosse, as well as the UW System. Her compassionate nature and kind personality made her a role model for students throughout her career. She was involved in numerous university, professional and community activities and her generous philanthropic activities, particularly related to the needs of women, will live on for generations. In 2008 Norene received the University of Northern Iowa Hall of Excellence Award given to an outstanding alumnus and in 2012 she received the Women’s Fund of Greater La Crosse Roberta Zurn Outstanding Women in Leadership Award given to women in the La Crosse community who have encouraged the advancement of women and girls.

Norene was a member of Mary Mother of the Church Catholic Church, La Crosse, WI and was a former member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, La Crosse, WI.

Norene is survived by cousins, Bette (Behrens) and Michael Wammer of Audubon, MN and William and Cindy Behrens of Bemidji, MN. She is also survived by her very special friends Patricia A. Mertens, of La Crosse, Sandi and James Kuehn of Viroqua, WI and Virginia Heintz of Brownsville, MN as well as other beloved relatives, colleagues and friends.

Norene was preceded in death by her parents Lorene (Behrens) Smith on August 28, 1993 and Norris T. Smith on October 28, 1974 and special friend Jean Foss on October 24, 2010.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 AM, Friday, April 25, 2014, in Mary, Mother of the Church Parish at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 2006 Weston St., La Crosse, Wis. Rev. Douglas Robertson will officiate with burial to be held in Hillcrest Cemetery, Cedar Falls, Iowa. Family and friends may call from 9:30 AM until the time of Mass in the church on Friday.

Memorials may be sent to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Foundation, Norene A. Smith and Jean L. Foss OCW Scholarship, P.O. Box 1148, La Crosse, WI 54602 or Women’s Fund of Greater La Crosse, P.O. Box 654, La Crosse, WI 54602.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Norene A. Smith, please visit our flower store.


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