On Tuesday, February 23, 2021, Loretta Smith Backstrom, loving mother, sister, and dear friend, passed away at age 62.
Loretta was born on February 7, 1959 in Kahuku, Hawaii to Joseph and Alice (Zemp) Smith. She was always proud to be born in Hawaii, especially in the same year that Hawaii became a state. After fond childhood memories as a haole on the island of Oahu, Loretta and her family relocated to Ashland, OR where her and her five siblings were raised on a farm with animals and an irrigation ditch to float down in the summer.
Loretta graduated from Ashland High School in 1977. From there, she wanted an adventure and wanted to learn to ski, so she moved to Salt Lake City, UT and became a ski-school instructor at Snowbird. She had a passion for skiing and loved being a ski-school instructor and she met many dear friends during this time. She always loved to tell people that she lent Robert Redford her goggles!
Loretta also had a passion for windsurfing. She was the first woman to windsurf at the Gorge (OR) and was the first woman windsurfing instructor.
During her time at Snowbird, she met her husband (to be) Don Backstrom. They moved to Washington state in 1983. Loretta and Don married in August of 1984 and built their first of several homes, where they started their family, raising two daughters; Devan and Stephany. After their children were born, Loretta went on to graduate from University of Washington with a degree in Accounting. She later received her MBA from Western Washington University in 1993.
The next year, 1994, Loretta and Don started a construction company together where Loretta worked as an accountant for many years and was able to be there for her daughters whenever necessary. Loretta spent time traveling with both daughters to ski races across the country and was always available for soccer games, swim meets and school dances. Loretta and Don were divorced in 2012 and Loretta moved to Big Sky, MT where she became an adjunct faculty member at Montana State University as an accounting professor. She also assisted in teaching at Lone Peak High School (Big Sky, MT) where she adored that age group of children. In 2019, Loretta relocated back to Ashland, OR for a short period of time to be close to her father before his passing. She then returned in 2020 to Bozeman, MT to be close to her daughter, Stephany.
Loretta had a passion for adventure and sharing her knowledge with the world. She loved to ski, swim in the ocean, sail, windsurf, and walk her dog Argus. She respected Led Zeppelin and wanted more than anything to meet them. She was an intelligent woman who cared so deeply for everyone she crossed paths with. Her good natured and caring spirit was infectious and made the day better for everyone she met.
Loretta was preceded in death by her mother Alice and her father Joseph. She is survived by her daughters Stephany Backstrom (Phillip Journey) and Devan (Matt) Hammond and her beloved dog Argus. She is survived by her three brothers, Gordon (Linda), Kent, and Raymond (Georgina Guzman) Smith; and her sisters, Jorae (Mark) Scofield and Shari Griffin, and stepsister Jazmine (Michael) Arrington. She is also survived by her nieces and nephews that truly adored her and by many beloved friends that cherished her and held her close to their hearts.
Loretta will be truly missed by all those who loved her. A memorial service to honor Loretta will be held at 10 am on Tuesday, March 16th at Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service Tribute Center in Bozeman, MT. Livestreamed at https://youtu.be/GaEVQhgibjI. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Heart of the Valley, www.heartofthevalleyshelter.org.