Dana Ann Smith

February 8, 1955 – August 16, 2022

Dana was a red head. True to the personal characteristics for which that hair color is famous, she intended to live every day to its fullest and did.


Dana, 67, of rural Nevada County, California, passed away on August 16, 2022 on the way to the hospital emergency room. Her death was from a combination of long covid and cardiac damage.


Dana was born in Orland, California to Barbara and Richard Mohler, the first of Barbara’s three daughters. A self-described tomboy, she grew up out of doors as much as possible and developed a love of gardening.


As a junior in High School, she received a challenge: She became pregnant with Brooks. The school, as was common in those days, asked her not to attend. She refused, continued her education while raising her child and graduated with her class.


After high school she entered the horticulture industry and received her AA degree from Butte College. At the age of 25 she developed Hodgkin’s Disease, probably from proximity to herbicides, then it came back again 5 years later. Each of those episodes and the arduous curative processes reduced her stamina, but not her will to live fully and actively. She was subsequently hired by Butte College as a Horticulture Technician, She operated a successful for-profit nursery within the Agriculture Department as a learning experience and to generate proceeds for the Ag program.


In the early 1990s, she met Mike Smith – typically while skiing. He went to Russia with the Peace Corps, and they were married in Volgograd in 1995 – the first Americans to be wed there. When they came back from Russia, they engaged in activities that suited their interest in the outdoors: staffing Sierra Club outings (with Dana cooking), living in the mountains, hiking, skiing, and traveling. She took up long-distance walking including Volksmarching, culminating in walking a full marathon in Portland.


For Dana, cooking was a life-long passion. She took those skills commercial with a successful catering business in Chico called SupperSmith. Later ventures included managing a deli, and – her favorite – cooking for 25 students at the Ananda Academy.


Throughout her life, she sought out life experiences: traveling, weaving, birding, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, playing the violin, working a worm farm, intense gardening and being a mother. Regardless of her physical difficulties she always looked forward.


Dana traveled to the following countries, sometimes with Mike, but often alone: Kenya, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, Equator, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, England, Norway, France, Russia, Italy, Greece, Cypress, and Singapore.


When she died, she had three ventures in the committed planning stages, two of which involved foreign travel. She was partially packed including Euros and Passport.


Dana is survived by her husband Mike Smith, her son Brooks vonBargen, his wife Karen vonBargen, and her sisters Jana Sanford and Maureen Ramsey. She was preceded in death by her parents: Wes and Barbara Wilson.

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