Elinor “Dede” Smith
Longtime Fremont Resident and
4th Generation San Franciscan
Elinor “Dede” Smith passed away peacefully on March 21, after a short illness—97 years young.
Born in San Francisco, March 15, 1921 to Gilbert and Ethel (Hilmer) Hall, she grew up in the house her grandparents built shortly after the 1906 earthquake. Her paternal great grandfather, Gilbert Cowles Hall, founded a dry goods business on Jessie St., south of Market, in 1879, which her grandfather and father later expanded. Her maternal grandfather, Fred Hilmer, was a San Francisco Supervisor during the 1915 Pan-Pacific Expo.
She moved to Hawaii in 1933 while in middle school, when the islands were still a territory, and transport was only by ship. Her family lived in a bungalow on undeveloped Waikiki beach, in full view of Diamond Head and walking distance to the ocean.
She returned to San Francisco for high school, attending Lowell, where her fondest memory was of cutting school to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge on its opening day in 1939. She later returned for reunions for over 75 years. After high school, she entered Stanford, graduating in 1943 with a degree in Political Science and building lifelong friendships with Tri-Delt Sorority members. She continued to participate in numerous Stanford events for seven decades.
Dede married Harry William “Bill” Smith in 1942, during WWII in Florida, where Bill was stationed in the Army. At the war’s end, they moved to Burlingame, where they started their family with Keith, Dale, and Barry.
In 1955, Bill and Dede moved to the just-formed city of Fremont, to start Dale Hardware, named after their daughter Dale, while also adding their fourth child, Garth. The store prospered along with the growth of Fremont. While Bill managed the merchandise, staff and store, Dede supervised the office responsibilities. Their son Garth later became the store owner and manager, and Garth’s son, Kyle, is now co-leading the business. Bill and Dede were instrumental in weaving Dale Hardware’s growth into the fabric of Fremont, contributing to numerous local organizations, schools and the arts. Even after Bill’s passing in 1983, Dede continued to work at Dale Hardware into her 90’s.
Dede contributed her time and resources to many local organizations, including the Fremont Symphony Guild, Inner Wheel, Fremont Congregational Church, League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women, Save the Bay, and SAVE (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments).
She was a pillar of the Fremont community, and will be missed.
She lived independently in the same house until the very end, surrounded by loving and helpful neighbors, family, and friends.
Dede was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; her daughter Dale, and son Keith, and is now survived by two sons, Barry (Julie) and Garth (Robin), and Keith’s wife, Anne; eight grandchildren, Daron (Molly), Ryan (Veronica), Eric (Michaele), Tyler, Chris (Elena), Kyle (Jennifer) and Kenna (J.D.); and 12 great-grandchildren, Lauren, Nolan, Alex, Corey, Isaac, Asha, Mari, Genevieve, Davin, Emry, John and Ella.
She leaves a legacy of living life fully to the end, with energy, commitment, character and—above all—love.
Per Dede’s wishes, a private family celebration of life is planned. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in her memory to SAVE at save-dv.org.
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Elinor