Ms. Rita Smith
Rita Gallagher Smith was born July 20, at her home in Wylie, Texas. Ms. Rita, the youngest of seven children, attended high school at Ursuline Academy in Dallas. She greatly enjoyed the time she spend with all her friends at Ursaline, though she was sorry to be so far away from the friends she left in Wylie. On Saturdays, the students were allowed to leave the school and go to downtown Dallas. Rita was not able to call home, but she wrote many letters to her Mom and Dad, who only saw her once a month when she was allowed to travel back home. Upon graduating from Ursaline, Rita journeyed to St. Paul to become a nurse.
After about a year, she decided that she did not want to become a nurse, so she returned to Wylie and began working for her father’s insurance company; she followed in her father’s footsteps after his death in 1942 by successfully taking control of the company. Rita had a very good friend named Truett, whom she car-pooled with to Garland every day. She held the title of City Secretary in Garland, another job that her father had worked prior to his passing. In 1945, Truett sold his car so that he could open a bank in Wylie. He would often drop off love letters to Rita at the insurance agency on his way to the bank. After 8 years of good old-fashioned courting and romance, the pair decided to get married. They planned on growing their family with many children, but were unfortunately not able to have any. Truett purchased the Wylie newspaper, where he printed the daily paper every morning after waking up at 4 a.m., only to come back home for a quick shower before going to work at the bank the rest of the day.
Rita and Truett had the privilege of appearing on the game show “Beat the Clock” in New York City where they won a TV and a camera. Truett had to crawl around on the floor and pop balloons with his stomach. They were both passionate about traveling, and together went to wonderful places like London, Scandinavia, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Rome, Paris, Vienna, and Japan. Even the stunning scenery and ancient architecture of the Mediterranean and Far East were not enough to dim the dazzling lights of New York City in Rita’s eyes. Out of all the magnificent places the pair had traveled, The Big Apple remained one of Ms. Rita’s favorite places to go. She loved being away from home and seeing new things. And with the world wide open to the couple, Rita and her husband still stayed connected with their hometown of Wylie, where they were involved with the Chamber of Commerce, Lions club, and St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.
Truett decided that Wylie needed a library, so he offered to let the city use the upstairs of his bank. It remained the library’s location for a few years, but when people began having trouble getting up and down the stairs, the city decided it was time for a new building. Mr. and Mrs. Smith answered once again the call of the city they loved so dearly and decided that they would give the city money to build a library. They also bought all of the furniture needed to fill the new Rita and Truett Smith Library, an appropriate name that remains the same up to this day.
In 2007, the Wylie Independent School district opened a new elementary school, naming it Rita Smith Elementary in honor of her commitment and dedication to the city of Wylie.
A big thanks to the following for their donations to the Smith Elementary School library, in honor of Ms. Rita:
- Lance Goff
- Stacy Gooch
- Kyle & Allie Kretsinger and girls
- Joseph & Joyce McGaughey
- Susan Morse
- Parnassus Book Review Club
- Brannon & Lona Riley and girls
- Chris & Jenny Riley
- Tom & Sarah Riley
- Susan Schuler
- Wylie East FFA & Supporters