Smith, Eleanor Marie
November 27, 1931 / May 16, 2021
Eleanor Marie Smith, age 89, peacefully entered the spirit world in her Albuquerque home on May 16th. In spite of her diminishing health, Eleanor embraced life and wanted to remain in her home close to family, relatives and friends albeit the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Eleanor was born on November 27, 1931, on the Navajo Reservation at the Chinle Indian Health Service Hospital. She was the daughter of Anslem G. Davis, Sr., Navajo from Lukachukai, Arizona, and Aileen Ben Davis, Choctaw from Standing Pine, Mississippi. Accordingly, she was half Navajo and half Choctaw, and was enrolled as a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. She was married to Robert L. Smith who was of the Laguna tribe and who proceeded her in death. Eleanor was the mother of one son, Lawrence Eric Smith, who resides in Yucaipa, California, and his wife Teddie and daughters Lisa and Sharlene, and son Stephen.
Having graduated from Gallup High School, Eleanor became a Registered Nurse after completing her course work at school of nursing in Louisville, Kentucky. Eleanor, who was a member of the New Mexico Indian Nurses Association, thoroughly enjoyed working with the Lovelace Medical Center staff and later in the Ears, Nose and Throat office of Dr. Ronald J. Escudero before deciding to retire.
In 1968, Eleanor started running to lose weight. Eventually she was able to run three miles in 30 minutes and continued running three miles at a 10-minute mile per mile pace for the next five years. During the next eight years, she entered a number of races. When she turned 50 years old, she decided to run her first 10K by entering the Las Mujeves De La Luz 10K, which she ran in 44 minutes and 57 seconds. She also began running half and full marathons, which included the Pikes Peak 14-mile Accent Run, Tour of Albuquerque Marathon, Duke City Marathon and New Mexico's most famous trail running race- the La Luz Trail Run. Eleanor would have been saddened to learn the La Luz Trail Run will no longer be held because the Cibola National Forest will no longer permit the fame event. The news was announced in the Albuquerque Journal on the date of Eleanor's passing- May 16, 2021.
As Eleanor increased the mileage and the number of races, Eleanor's husband died un-expectantly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Two months later her father died in an auto accident. She discovered that through running she could release some of her grief. "Running keeps me in touch with mother earth and father sky. I get my strength, peace, and renewal of body, mind and spirit through mountain running. To me running is praying." Eleanor continued to run numerous races including the Avon Women's International Marathon and the Sandia Wilderness Crossing, a 28.5- mile run across the length of the Albuquerque Sandia Mountains. This was a ten-year research run for high altitude endurance runners. Eleanor ran this research run for eight years and was the only 50+ women research runner. When the research run ended in 1988, her best time was six hours and 48 minutes. She was a proud member of the Al Waquie United Indian Runners. On August 19, 1991, Eleanor received an honorary award from the Earth Circle Foundation for spirit, strength and commitment to Native American runners. The number of trophies that fill shelves in her bedroom attest to her commitment to running and to the joy she experienced while running.
Eleanor was a member of Albuquerque's Queen of Angels Catholic Church, She was an active member of the Kateri Tekakwitha Circle whose members worked diligently for the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha. Eleanor traveled to Rome Italy to witness Kateri Tekakwitha being canonized as the first Native American saint on October 21, 2012. Eleanor was also in Rome on October 1, 2000, for the canonization of Katherine Drexel founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. Eleanor traveled to Rome with Sister Gloria, her younger sister, who was the first Native American to enter into the order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1952.
Eleanor was well-known in the Albuquerque Pow Wow circle where she enjoyed the companionship of Pow Wow dancers and spectators. She especially enjoyed participating in the Gourd Dances.
Eleanor was the seconds oldest child of the ten children Davis family. Pearl Ethel Nelson (deceased) was the oldest followed by younger siblings Sister Gloria Ann Davis, S.B.S (deceased), Rose B. Leyba, Loretta Ann Chavez (deceased), Dr. Anslem G. Davis Jr., Ralph Ulysses Davis, William Paul Davis, Patricia Ann Davis and Robert Michael Davis. Eleanor is also survived by Anslem K. Davis (deceased), and by Mae Begay, Michael Davis (deceased) and George Davis (deceased) from her father's second marriage.
Although Eleanor endured a number of health setbacks later in life, she bore its difficulties with grace and dignity. While waiting for her creator to embrace her soul in the spirit world, Eleanor's niece, Gwendolyn Nelson provided daily care with the help of family members when needed. Eleanor will be remembered by family, relatives, and her many friends for her zest for life, her generosity, and for being a kind and loving person. She touched the lives of so many adults and children in so many ways.
Eleanor will be buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery with her husband, Robert L. Smith, who was an Air Force veteran.
717 Stover Ave. SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102