Jean “Dee” Smith, age 79 of Yankton, SD passed away peacefully on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 at Avera Sister James Care Center in Yankton.

A celebration of Dee’s life will be 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home and Crematory.

There will be an hour of visitation from 12 to 1:00 p.m. just prior to the service.

A livestream of Dee’s service can be found at:

Online condolences may be left at: Arrangements are under the direction of Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home and Crematory in Yankton.

Jean “Dee” Baird Smith born 9/21/1941 in Queens County New York, to Jeanne Bedell Ficken and George V. Ficken.

Dee grew up in the borough of Queens, N.Y. Graduated from Richmond Hill HS and attended Bates College for two years before transferring and graduating from Penn. State in 1962 with a BS in Liberal Arts. Attained a Masters in language development at NYU. Her second Masters of Psychology was at Hood College.

Dee taught English to foreign students at NYU for 2 years before joining the Peace Corps to teach English in Thailand for 2 years.

She married in 1967 to Thane Smith, PhD. They lived on Long Island, NY and had 2 sons, Christopher and Matthew. Moved to Middletown, Md with Thane’s job and stayed for 20 years. Thane and Dee moved to South Dakota in 1995 because the children were grown, and it seemed to be a good time to move away from the familiar East Coast and experience something new.

She worked at Lewis & Clark Behavioral Health for almost 10 years as a Mental Health Counselor for children and their families. She developed a suicide prevention promise that is still in use. In 2006, she received an Award from L&C, “Champion 4 Children.”

After retiring in 2006, she traveled the world and honed her amateur photography skills. Inspired by her travels to Nairobi, Kenya, Korea, Japan, Hawaii, and cruising the Panama Canal to name a few. She slowed down a bit in 2017 (stroke) and learned how to live without her favorite pastime, reading.

Dee continued her lifetime of philanthropy, giving generously to animal causes, various homeless shelters, educational institutions, and many other worthy causes. She was a vibrant lively woman who lived her life the way she saw fit.

Dee is preceded in death by her parents, and husband Thane Smith, PhD.

Dee is survived by her two sons, Christopher Smith of Yankton, SD. and Matthew Smith of Knoxville, TN. Her granddaughter Abigail of Sharpsburg, MD. And the furry family Cyclops (cat) and Nikka (dog).

She asked that in place of flowers you donate to the Heartland Humane Society in honor of all her pets. Heartland Humane Society, 3400 E Hwy 50, Yankton, SD 57078.

Yankton Press & Dakotan

September 9, 2021