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Obituary: Camie Peterson Smith

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Posted at 2:07 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 16:07:52-04

Camie Peterson Smith left this world for a better place on September 6, 2021. Camie was born in Missoula on October 27, 1936, to Mae (Campbell) and Alex Francis Peterson. A third-generation Montanan, her roots in the Missoula community ran deep.

Graduating from Missoula High School, Camie went on obtain a degree in Pharmacy from the University of Montana. She followed her father and her grandfather into the pharmacy profession. While a student at the University, Camie joined the Delta Gamma Sorority and met a young man from Thompson Falls named James Smith. Camie and Jim married shortly after graduating in 1959. Their happy marriage lasted almost fifty-three years.

Not long after their wedding, life took these Montana newlyweds to our nation’s capital. They remained in Washington, raising their family in the Maryland suburbs, for forty years. Jim began his climb up the Washington ladder working for Montana Senator Lee Metcalf, then holding various governmental and private sector positions in the field of environmental protection.

At a time when women normally stayed home, Camie broke the mold. She did it all. Working full-time as a pharmacist, she was always there for her family — cooking wonderful meals and assuring all the comforts of home. At work, Camie found her place in the areas of hospital and psychiatric pharmacy. Jokingly referred to as “Fast Frances” by her coworkers (Frances was her formal given name), Camie gained notoriety for her ability to rapidly and accurately fill even the most onerous backlog of prescriptions and medical requests. Later in her career, she worked at a University of Maryland teaching hospital, interacting with patients and teaching young pharmacy students.

While in Washington, Camie and Jim developed a rich circle of friends. They both loved to cook, travel, and entertain. Laughter and storytelling were key ingredients in their kitchen and at their dinner table.

During the second Nixon inauguration, Camie and Jim — both staunch Democrats — felt the need to take their family away from the Republican festivities in Washington. They headed to the mountains. The entire family learned to ski. While Camie’s introduction to the sport was tentative, she eventually came to love skiing. She and Jim took numerous ski trips with some of their closest friends. For years afterward, they would laugh and regale at their antics and rich memories from those trips.

As Jim and Camie looked toward retirement, they knew where to go. Despite spending four decades in Washington, they never became Washingtonians. They were Montanans.

Building a beautiful home overlooking several different mountain ranges, they settled in the Gallatin Valley. Camie loved her new home. Joining the Bozeman Women’s Adventure Group (BWAGs) skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing became favorite pastimes. Always caring about progressive values and good government, Camie also became involved in the Bozeman Area League of Women Voters. During their retirement years, Camie and Jim also traveled extensively. They took many memorable trips throughout the US, Europe, and Africa.

Camie lovingly cared for Jim through two bouts of cancer. When Jim passed away in 2011, Camie downsized and moved into town. While gradually slowed down by health issues, she lived happily — spending time among friends — at the Knowles, Aspen Point, and the Birchwood retirement communities in Bozeman.

Camie survived her mother, father, and only sister, Mary Jo Connelly. Sadly, she also lost her young grandson, Sean Gallik, in 2020. She is survived by her son, Marcus of Belgrade; her daughter, Terry of Bozeman; and two grandsons, Keir Gallik of Aspen, CO and Tyler Smith of Sarasota, FL.

Many Bozemanites may recall regularly seeing Camie walking her beloved Aussiedoodle, Billy, on Peets Hill. The family requests that contributions in Camie’s memory be made toward the Gallatin Valley’s Land Trust’s efforts to preserve this critical link in our community’s trail system. A Mass will be said in Camie’s memory at Holy Rosary Parish. A private family service is planned for later this year.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.