Smiths reunite for Old Timers’

jeanette and mike now

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.     Mike and Jeanette Smith and their six children and their families will be the 2014 Nederland Grand Marshal Family in the Old Timers’ Parade on Saturday, July 26.

It will be the first time in 10 years that the whole family will be in Nederland, which has been home to all of them since they were born. Mike and Jeanette met in Nederland when Mike was 14 years old. His parents were Irene, a school teacher and Joe, a  miner and eventually a Boulder County Commissioner.

Jeanette McDonald’s mother Jane ran the girls’ camp in the Old Antler’s Hotel and Jeanette was spending the summer in Nederland which was a thriving mining town at the time. Mike rode his bike to the camp and noticed Jeanette, a “scrawny little thing,” and that was pretty much it. He was determined to spend the rest of his life with her.

Mike graduated from Nederland High School in 1953. In the yearbook, it was prophecized that Mike would grade from the School of Mines and live in India. He was the president of the class, the lead in the play and participated in most sports.

After a year of dating, Mike and Jeanette were married. It was 1954 and she was 17 and he was 19. Mike worked in local mines, on and off, and then worked construction and Jeanette had babies, six of them.

They weren’t just a family, they were a camp, a team, a force to be reckoned with. Six Smith children in one Nederland school, in a seven-year spread made the years between 1955 and 1962 a challenging experience.

Whenever Jeanette had the time, she volunteered at the school and then began working as a teacher’s aide and continued to do so after the children were gone. She was also a docent at the Nederland Mining Museum.

Jeanette was one of the original organizers of Old Timers’ Days and also helped to form the Vacation Bible School run by a consortium of churches. Her photo albums and scrapbooks contain family history and along with it, a history of Nederland itself. Mike worked at various jobs to support the Smith clan and has always been an iconic figure in mining history.

Two years ago, a party was held at the Stage Stop Restaurant to honor the Smith’s and their significant contribution to the history and recognition of the old timers who helped create Nederland’s colorful mining legends.

smith kids now

All of the Smith kids will attend the reunion. Sheila Ranegar, 52, owns and runs the Rising Sun Ranch on Lazy Z road.

Pete, 53, is a surveyor living in Salida, Colorado. Diane Snelling, 54, Nederland, owns Sparkle and Shine Cleaning Company. Jim Smith, 56, lives in Lincoln Hills and works nights at the Twin Tunnels near Idaho Springs.

Mark Smith, 58, lives on Magnolia Road and is the Boulder County Roads Foreman. Joe Smith, 59, Fremont, California, is a computer technician.

Grandchildren Jeremiah Ranegar married schoolmate Caitlin Jones and have a son, Grayson, born May 9, 2014. Luke Ranegar    works in North Dakota and has a house on Lower Travis Gulch. Ashton Smith likes in Broomfield. Emily Smith is to be married on August 15 in Nashotah, Wisconsin. Madeliene Smith will attend DU in the fall and Anastasia Snelling will be a junior at Nederland High School.

It won’t be hard to find the Smiths on Olde Timers’ Day. They will be ones eating all the food, drinking all the beer, talking, arguing, laughing and having the most fun.

There will be a pancake breakfast at the Nederland Community Center from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; an old timers parade at noon beginning in front of the teen center; an arts and crafts bazaar; the annual library book sale at 10 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

The Old Timer’s Parade will  begin at noon in front of the teen center. The Smiths will lead the way and vintage cars and people will follow them up First Street and right on Snyder.

The Potluck lunch picnic begins at 1 p.m. at Chipeta Park and an ice cream social will follow during which Old Timers will share stories.

Save Old Timer’s Day to come and join our favorite fun, funny family and thank them for hanging around and being such valuable members of our community. Just follow the chatter and laughter to find them.


Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.

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