Regent Emerita Veronica Latta Smith, died peacefully at her Grosse Ile, Michigan, home Nov. 13. She was 97.
Veronica was born Jan. 13, 1925, in Wyandotte, Michigan, to Jan and Helena Latta as the youngest of eight children. Her parents emigrated from Poland in the early 1900s, first settling in Pennsylvania before moving to Wyandotte and establishing the Latta Feed Store. She was preceded in death by her siblings Laurence, Edmund, Helen, Eddie, Sophia, Mary and Wanda.
Veronica worked for Great Lakes Steel during World War II to help pay for college at the University of Michigan, where she earned her sociology degree in 1948, beginning nearly 80 years of dedication to the school.
She met her late husband, Stewart G. Smith, a U-M Law School graduate, on a double date. Stew arranged this date because Veronica was dating a friend of his and he wished to make her acquaintance.
They married in 1952 and had six children, all of whom attended U-M, as did eight of their 13 grandchildren. She was also blessed with four great-grandchildren.
Veronica’s work varied throughout her life following graduation. She was a teacher, owner of Latta Insurance Agency and a gift shop proprietor. She was director of the Martha Cook Board of Governors at U-M and served on other alumni boards.
In 1984, she was elected to the Board of Regents, and was known as the “Students’ Regent.” Her advocacy for students was recognized by the Michigan Student Assembly in 1992, a first for a regent. In addition to this commendation, she was honored to have met four U.S. presidents through her service to the university.
As a regent emerita, Veronica continued to participate in university commencements and attended football games until she was 95 years old.
Veronica is survived by her six children: S. Gregory and Martha Smith of Yorklyn, Delaware; Patrick and Karen Smith of Columbia, Missouri; Paul Smith of Los Angeles; Alison Hurley and her late husband, James Hurley, of Scottsdale, Arizona; Alisa and Steve Lyons of Grosse Ile; and Glenn and Marie Smith of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
She also is survived by 13 grandchildren, Ryan, Brett, Matt, Kyle, Kelly, Holly, Tracy, Shelby, Samantha, Jack, Casey, Suzanne and Doug, and four great-grandchildren, Carson, Fritz, Lolo and Milo. The diversity of her children’s lives and careers speaks to Veronica as a passionate, caring mother who emphasized the importance of education and the value of a close-knit, loving family.
In 2017, her children established the Stewart and Regent Emerita Veronica Latta Smith Scholarship for Siblings to support families with multiple children attending U-M. Stewart and Veronica generously supported the scholarship fund over the years.
In lieu of flowers, people are asked to consider donating to the Stewart and Regent Emerita Veronica Latta Smith Scholarship for Siblings Fund – 798869 at U-M or to the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
— Submitted by the family of Veronica Latta Smith