Barbara Jane Boyle-Smith

Honored by:Jill Richardson and Chris Richardson
Brick location:F:18  map

When we look around, we thank our lucky stars that we are blessed with a woman like Barbara Boyle-Smith as our mother.

Barbara Jane Hill was born March 1, 1936 in Shenandoah, Iowa. Thomas and Hazel Hill, her parents, raised her on the farm that had been in her father's family since he was a child. As a child, life on the farm was lonely at times but she grew up learning to rely on herself, and this self reliance has played a prominent role in her life as an adult. She loved her parents, and their values influenced her in many ways. Her father's individualism and his respect for everyone and her mother's determination and caring are evident in her lifestyle today.

She went to high school in College Springs, Iowa at Amity high school. After graduation she went to Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa. She studied there from 1954 to 1956. She then went to Cedar Falls to Iowa State Teachers College, and 1957 she applied for her teaching certificate and began teaching elementary school in Toledo, Iowa. Mom taught school by day and took classes to finish her Bachelors degree in the evenings and summers until she graduated in 1960.

In 1958 she married her high school sweetheart, Charles Richardson. In 1960 they moved to Nevada, Iowa. Here, her daughter Jill Ellen Richardson was born in 1961, and her son Chris Arthur Richardson was born in 1963. After several moves, the family ended up in Ames where she began working again as a substitute teacher and went back to Iowa State University to update her teaching certificate.

In 1975 her father died. The next year her mother died. In this same year, 1976, her first marriage after 18 years ended in divorce.

She instilled her strong values and appreciation of life's natural treasures, both big and small, in us by example. When her first marriage was ending in divorce, she did her best during this difficult period to think of us. Mom was always interested in how we felt and did her best to support the three of us, teaching sixth grade at United Community School. Even when her life was in turmoil, she planned for our future, guaranteeing us a college education by insisting that the cost of our university education’s were included in the divorce settlement. Always at our side, ready to help us through any struggle that we had, she expressed an interest in everything we did.

At the beginning of her second marriage in 1979 she moved to Minneapolis, leaving her teaching job behind. In January of 1980 she took a job selling World Book Encyclopedias door to door. She was the perfect salesperson for World Book, having used the books at home for us, her kids, and in her job as a teacher. She was very successful as a manager, and her management techniques helped to put her agents at the top of the region in terms of over-all sales. At the time she received the news of her agents' success in 1984, she had just taken a job as an Allstate insurance agent. Being a female Allstate agent was to be a completely different challenge for Mom, suddenly her experience as a teacher was a liability. She was the target of many sexist remarks, and often found herself fighting to maintain her integrity and dignity. She has maintained her self respect and gained the respect of others by being honest and being a Key marketing sales manager in the new independent agent area for 3 years, 1991, 1992, and 1994. Our mother has never been interested in being successful at the cost of being human. In her career at Allstate she has had to stand up for herself and others when no one else has, and occasionally she has found herself alone, defending her beliefs and often winning.

At the same time, she has been successful in any thing that she has pursued--teaching, sales, motherhood, and being a single parent. Her personality has won her many allies as she has moved through the business world as well as the world at large. People respond positively to her warm personality and frank assessment of any situation. In 1990 Mom married Richard Smith and they live in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. They have found their own "success" in their relationship that continues to grow daily.

We are grateful to have her as a mother, role model, and friend. She is as Tina Turner says "Simply the best!"; Earthy and rich like black Iowa soil, strong and prosperous as corn, and warm and positive like sunshine. The combination of these things has produced in her a character like no other; she has weathered many terrifying storms and continues to blossom even during adversity.

We are honored to commemorate her with the other women included here in the "Plaza of Heroines" outside Carrie Chapman Catt Hall by dedicating this brick in her name. We think she is deserving of the title of "heroine" in any sense of the word, and proudly offer her to the women of Iowa the nation and the world as an example of a h