Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Marcus & Carol Smith

Drs. Marcus & Carol Smith


Honored October, 1985

Drs. Marcus & Carol Smith

April, 1945 Dr. Marcus Smith reached Dachau with a team of US army officers sent to reclaim the lives of the more than 32,000 prisoners. Memories of the concentration camp outside Munich haunted the good doctor all his life. "He tried to keep everything in," his wife Carol recalls, "but there were some times when he just couldn't." The disturbing memoir he published in 1972 Dachan: The Harrowing of Hell gives a glimpse of the kindly, practical physician, who set right to work on arrival, inventorying the camp kitchen.

Carol and Marcus Smith, she a pediatrician, he a radiologist, married in 1941 and came to live in Santa Fe in 1948. (He had been stationed here, at Bruns Army Hospital, during part of the war.) In 1951 Carol was stricken with polio while pregnant with their fourth child. Confined to a wheelchair for life, she continued to practice medicine and remained active in community affairs.

"I was lucky I was a pediatrician," she told us, "because I could just come back and go to work. You don't have to stand up when you're talking to kids." She received care and rehab at the University of Chicago, "where there was a very positive attitude and all their patients had jobs." While there she studied bone pathology. She was also active in child protective services, working to assist children in situations of abuse or neglect.

While Carol worked at rural clinics in Rio Arriba and Taos Counties, and as the United Mine Workers' physician at the Madrid mines, Marcus made the "milk run" to Las Vegas, Española and Taos. Often the state police would stop him for coffee and a report on road conditions.

Both doctors participated fully in civic life, especially with opera and concert groups. Marcus came from a musical family and enjoyed singing with the Santa Fe Chorus. In fact, Carol told us, "he would have preferred to have been an opera singer. As a young man he was offered a scholarship to study opera, but he turned it down in favor of medicine. But music was his first love."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes