Arpad, Dr. Susan Smith
Wadsworth, OH

Dr. Susan Smith Arpad died Monday, April 7, 2014, from multiple myeloma, an incurable bone marrow cancer. She was 76.

Susan was born April 23, 1937, in Wilmington, Delaware, to Montford and Lillian (Eddleston) Smith.
She graduated from Wilmington Friends School in 1955. She received her bachelor’s degree from Smith College, her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Delaware, concluding her studies in 1974. After brief history teaching positions at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware, and George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, Susan became a professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State University in 1975. In 1982, at the request of Governor Richard Celeste, she founded the first Women’s Studies program in the state of Ohio, among the first in the nation. In 1986, she became the Chair of the Women’s Studies Department at California State University, Fresno (CSUF), one of the largest such departments in the nation. During her academic career, she published several books and many articles, including Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord: Hymns as a Reflection of Victorian Social Attitudes (1978) and Sam Curd’s Diary: The Diary of a True Woman (1984), as well as many book reviews in Choice and other journals.

In 1990, Susan received a Summer Fulbright Fellowship to observe the transition in government in Hungary with the fall of the Soviet Union. That same year, she began participating in a CSUF London Semester Abroad program, which involved taking 20 to 30 students on educational tours of England. In 1991-92, she and her husband, Dr. Joseph Arpad, taught Fulbright courses in Budapest, Szeged, and Debrecen, Hungary. She again joined her husband in teaching Fulbright courses in Riga, Latvia, in 1996-98.

Upon retiring from CSUF in 1999, Susan became very active in Habitat for Humanity in the Central Valley of California, obtaining federal grants to build farmworker and other low-income family housing. During this time, she directed the first Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build, where women construct an entire house with their newly acquired skills. In 2004, upon moving with her husband Joe to Wadsworth, Ohio, she began another career as a community organizer and volunteer grant writer for local non-profits.

Susan’s father, Montford Smith, worked for the DuPont Company, where he was in charge of enriching plutonium for the Manhattan Project during World War II, constructing the first atomic bomb. As a consequence of his work, the family moved often, and in secrecy. By the time Susan was in the 9th Grade, she had lived in nine different communities across the United States. Her reason for moving to Wadsworth, where Joe had grown up, was to experience her first “home town.”

In doing so, she restored and remodeled a historic Young residence in 2004-06, which will be a Historic Tea site for the Wadsworth Bicentennial celebration in 2014. She became an active member of the Wadsworth Art & History Class. She was secretary of the Wadsworth Community Band, organizing the Festival of Community Bands in 2007. As an elected board member of Downtown Wadsworth, Inc., she organized the hanging flower displays in downtown in 2007; wrote grants for the improvement of the city’s southwest parking lot in 2008; and contributed funds to restore the Boy with the Boot statue and water fountain in the Gazebo park in 2014. Serving as a board member of Menwa Apartments, Susan became known as the “Moses of Menwa” for leading the Mennonite Church out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land by obtaining financing for a new elevator and refinancing the entire complex. She was an active member of First Christian Church, especially in tending the gardens around the property. Studying and becoming a Master Gardener, she participated in developing food gardens and helping the community solve plant and tree problems. As an associate member of the Wadsworth High School Alumni Association, she and her husband provide a “Drs. Joseph and Susan Arpad” scholarship each year to a graduating senior who will pursue post-graduate studies. And, finally, she was an elected member of the Medina County Democratic Central Committee, representing Wadsworth. In doing all these things for Wadsworth, Susan has definitely made it her “hometown.”

Susan married Joseph Arpad in 1977. They have two sons, Alexander (Nicole Armstrong), Phoenix, AZ, and Monty, Mesa, AZ. She is survived by three sisters, Kay Schauer, Palo Alto, CA, Sally Lambert, Delmar, MD, and Mary Farnell, Seaford, DE, plus many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 2 – 4 and 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday at Hilliard-Rospert Funeral Home, 174 North Lyman Street, Wadsworth, Ohio, 44281, and one hour before the funeral service on Friday at 11 a.m. at First Christian Church, 116 Boyer Street, Wadsworth, with Rev. Jim Singleton officiating.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Susan’s name to First Christian Church and to the Wadsworth Salvation Army, P. O. Box 300, Wadsworth 44282.