Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 12, 2014

Dr. Barbara Ort-Smith

ORLANDO, Fla. — Barbara (Sherman) Ort-Smith, Ph.D., of Suttons Bay, died on Christmas Eve in Orlando, Fla., at the home of her eldest daughter. She was 85 years old.

Barbara was born in Muncie, Ind., in 1928. From the earliest grades she excelled in her studies and graduated high school with honors. She went on to receive her master’s degree in school curriculum and French from Ball State University and her doctorate in curriculum development at Michigan State University.

She had a natural talent for languages and during her graduate studies in 1949 traveled to French Morocco to teach in the American School at Rabat for a year then went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne.

In 1951 she became one of the first teachers at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. She was a very popular instructor.

Barbara went on to have a very successful professional life, reaching the rank of associate superintendent of schools at the State of Michigan Department of Education, where she served for over 20 years until her retirement in 1983.

Post-retirement she briefly served as interim deputy superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools. She was influential in implementation of Title IX and promoting the expansion of world language instruction in early elementary school grades. She is still remembered every year with the presentation of the Barbara Ort-Smith Award, given by the Michigan World Language Association, an organization which she co-founded, as its highest honor to a world language instructor teaching in the Michigan public schools.

In retirement she was active as a volunteer with the League of Women Voters, the Leelanau Democrats and Planned Parenthood.

Barbara is fondly remembered by friends and family members across the nation and around the globe. She was a true friend, a loving mother and grandmother and a brilliant and dedicated educator.

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