Death of Lori Smith, Forest Arts Co-Founder, Stuns Mountain

  • Lori Smith with her beloved thoroughbred stallion, Zydeco.

    Lori Smith with her beloved thoroughbred stallion, Zydeco.

Residents of the Mountain Community are reeling from the news that Lori Smith, co-founder of the Forest Arts Coalition, passed away in her sleep from complications of Lupus, an autoimmune disease, Friday morning, Sept. 26.

Lori and husband Lonon Smith began the Forest Arts Coalition as a way to help save the music programs in El Tejon Unified School District, slated to be cut because of budget problems. The nonprofit group raised funds to support the programs while also raising community awareness about the value of music in the schools.

The Smiths, whose home was in Pine Mountain, coordinated fundraising concerts and arts events, including Music in the Forest festivals.

Lori was a musician, singer, writer and actor. She performed the title role of the Broadway musical Evita with the production’s national touring company.

The focus she helped bring to school music programs resulted in adjustments to the El Tejon School budget to retain a music program under instructor Randy Poland.

An explosion and fire in 2003, caused by a faulty propane line, destroyed the couple’s home. The struggle to rebuild took its toll on Lori’s health. The couple was researching a move to Arizona when she passed in her sleep.

A memorial is being prepared, tentatively for 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12 at the Pine Mountain Village gazebo.

Details will be announced in these pages.

Even as heartfelt condolences are being expressed to Lonon, he said Sunday he is planning a memorial scholarship in Lori Smith’s name at Frazier Mountain High School to recognize talent in drama and music. “It was what she loved most,” he said.

This is part of the October 03, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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