November/December 2020 Society Pages

In Memoriam: Sherri Smith

27 October 1944–9 September 2020

By Linda Oestreich | STC Fellow and Deirdre Murr | STC Fellow

Sherri E. Smith, STC Fellow, passed away suddenly on 9 September 2020. She was a teacher and a skilled technical communicator who enjoyed a career that spanned more than four decades.

Sherri joined STC in 1975, acting in various local and international STC capacities for more than 30 years. Sherri, a member of the Houston Chapter (now STC South Central Texas), received her STC Fellow honor in 2000. Her first leadership role at the international level of STC occurred in 1981, when she ran for a spot on the Nominating Committee. It didn’t take long for her to move up to the STC Board of Directors as Director-Sponsor from 1987 to 1990 and then to serve as an Assistant to the President for Recognition from 1991 to 1994. She received the Distinguished Chapter Service Award from the Houston Chapter in 1994, having served in almost all offices available, including as President from 1980 to 1981 and as a member of the award-winning Dateline Houston newsletter team. Another of her crowning glories was serving as Conference Manager for the 1985 STC Annual Conference, held in Houston; it still reigns as one of the biggest and most successful STC Annual Conferences ever held.

A prolific communicator and manager, she supported STC programs and competitions, winning multiple publication awards, including two awards of Distinguished Technical Communication from STC Houston, two Awards of Excellence from the Society’s International Competition, a Gold Quill Award from the International Association of Business Communicators, and a Matrix Award from Women in Communication.

To those who knew Sherri, she was a bright light, albeit one who was vertically challenged! As AP for Recognition, she needed a soapbox to stand on so she could see over the lectern when she spoke at STC Annual Banquets.

Sherri shared her full life and caring spirit with her STC colleagues and her work associates. Her career included a decade at Brown & Root, a few years at Saba Communications developing astronaut training materials at NASA, almost two decades at Compaq/Hewlett Packard, and then a return to Saba Communications as a contract writer for another decade or more. Her forte was in marketing and curriculum design, and she did both extremely well.

A graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, she also studied technical communication at the graduate level at the University of Houston. Her people skills and problem-solving abilities were unmatched.

In the past 20-plus years, though, Sherri had a second passion: miniature poodles! As recently as 31 August 2020, just nine days before she died, she posted this about one of her poodles: “Ariel won her first Major going BOV over a Special for the win! One more for her CH! Long time coming! So proud of her & Betty!” We don’t know what half of that means, but we know it meant the world to her. She loved her dogs and her career. She was funny, intuitive, loving, kind, and a big presence in STC for decades. A longtime STC Executive Director called her “bubbly,” and indeed, she was!

Sherri was an only child with no children, but she is survived by 11 first cousins—all of whom were close. One of them, Melodi, was her traveling companion and champagne drinking buddy. (Sherri loved champagne!). Melodi posted this on Sherri’s Facebook page:

At this time there will not be a funeral or memorial service and the family requests that no one send flowers. There are plans to have a service in the Spring in San Saba, TX, where Sherri will be laid to rest next to her beloved parents, Glenn and Perky Smith. I will keep Sherri’s Facebook account open for anyone who would like to post a story or memory of Sherri and I will notify her Facebook friends when the service in San Saba will take place.

In lieu of cards or flowers, a donation to one of the following, in Sherri’s memory, is suggested:

Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America:

American Civil Liberties Union:

Poodle Club of America Foundation:

Sherri had so many friends and colleagues and our family welcomes any of you to arrange your own memorial gathering or tribute to Sherri—virtual or otherwise. And maybe raise a glass of wine to her memory—champagne was Sherri’s favorite!

She was a shining light who will be missed. We already miss her mightily.

Rest in peace, dear Sherri.