Remembering Deanna Smith

Deanna Smith of Salem died Tuesday, Dec. 27, following a massive stroke in Salem. She was 70.

Deanna was the wife of Denny Smith, a former U.S. Congressman (1981-91) who represented Oregon’s 5th District and owner of Eagle Newspapers Inc., a group of community newspapers that includes the Polk County Itemizer-Observer.

Deanna was the first and only woman to lead the Oregon Republican Party. She served as the party’s state chairwoman from 1997- 1999.

Prior to serving as chairwoman, she was the executive director for the Oregon campaign for Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee.

Deanna had owned and operated businesses and was involved in both community and political affairs. Her community involvements included: board member for Family Building Blocks, the Historic Elsinore Theatre and Salem Hospital Auxiliary; member of Salem Assistance League, University of Oregon Museum of Art Council, Eugene Symphony board member and numerous others.

The couple worked as a team during Denny’s political career and she was active in her husband’s campaign for Oregon’s governor in 1994, when he won a tough primary for the Republican nomination but lost to Democrat John Kitzhaber.

They were enjoying semiretirement, concentrating on their activities with nonprofit associations and travels before her sudden death.

Deanna was born April 22, 1941, to James Helm Walters and Gertrude Clara Mosebach in Houston. She moved to Eugene in 1976. Deanna and Denny were married in 1989. Their combined family had six children and eight grandchildren.

Survivors include her husband, Denny; children, Mark Koenig of Eugene and Tonja Koenig Bridges of Rockwall, Texas; and three grandchildren.

Private service and interment was held Dec. 29 in Salem.

A public celebration of her life will be scheduled at a later date.