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Kaye V. Smith Ladd ’63

Born in Seattle, Kaye V. graduated from West Seattle High School. At Reed, she majored in chemistry and wrote her thesis, An Attempt to Determine the Existence of a Tetramethylene Radical in the Pyrolysis of Cyclobutane at 450° C., with Prof. Frederick D. Tabbutt [chemistry 1957–71] advising. She remembered washing the glassware in Prof. Helen Stafford’s [biology 1954–87] lab to earn money for books. “Dr. Stafford was the only woman scientist at Reed when I was there (and for a long time afterward),” Kaye V. observed. “She was an important role model for many of us.”

After getting a divorce in the late 60s, Kaye V. decided to keep her married name. She received her master’s in physical chemistry from Brandeis University in 1965, and her doctorate in inorganic chemistry in 1974. Living in Boston, Massachusetts, she worked as a scientist at Tyco Industries, as a research consultant at the New England Aquarium in Boston, and as a chemistry instructor at Suffolk University. Beginning in 1974, she taught chemistry at Evergreen State College in Olympia for 22 years, and inspired many students with her enthusiasm and energy. She once mused, “Preparation for ‘life in general’ is done well before someone reaches college. If I’m successful I can develop better analytical abilities in my students (increase knowledge and tools) and I might inspire a career choice, but I’m not going to make behavioral changes.”

In Boston, Kaye V. became involved with the feminist movement and active in the National Organization for Women, eventually serving as cochair of the local Olympia NOW organization. She also gave workshops on affirmative action compliance and taught a self-defense class for women.

Kaye V.  was an avid runner, running races in each of the United States and several in Europe. The Silver Strider running group named her Silver Strider of the Year in 2016. She also helped found the Women’s Independent Soccer League in Olympia and was the treasurer of the Women’s Investment Network.

In 2010, she married Karen Lichtenstein, who survives her, as does Todd Smith, her brother.

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