Cover photo for Blanca Class Smith's Obituary
Blanca Class Smith Profile Photo

Blanca Class Smith

January 9, 1930 — February 20, 2018

The Lehigh valley has lost one if its brightest lights. Blanca Class Smith, age 88, of Bethlehem died February 20, 2018, at Saint Lukes Hospital, Fountain Hill. Blanca was a leader and a fighter, a petite woman with a big vision. She was a powerful voice for change in the 60s and 70s and believed in a society that promotes equality and opportunity for men and women of all races, religions and backgrounds. She believed that each of us could make a difference and devoted her life to making this world a better place.

Blanca was born in the tiny mountain town of Ciales , Puerto Rico, the daughter of the late Rita (Ruiz) and Lorenzo Class. In 1948 as a Junior in college, she flew to Miami and rode a bus to Arkansas she received her Bachelor of Science from The University of Arkansas. She later obtained her Masters degree in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University, Chicago. After earning her Physical Therapy degree she returned to Puerto Rico to help found the Physical Therapy Department at the University of Tropical Medicine. There Blanca met her soul mate and husband of 54 years, Cameron Smith, who was doing contract work for the Navy in San Juan.

The story goes that Cameron fell hard for Blanca the first time they met, even though Blanca played hard to get, pretended not to speak English and would not dance with him. Cameron persevered and in 1955 they both traveled to the Lehigh Valley to look for jobs. Everything fell into place quickly and they married in the tail end of a hurricane in Allentown. Blanca went to work for the Physical Therapy Department at Saint Lukes Hospital and Cameron as an Electrical Engineer for Western Electric.

The 60s were a turbulent time. Our country needed and our world needed change and Blanca was a voice for that change. She advocated for her beloved Puerto Rican community, for womens rights and the underserved and under privileged.

In 1972 Blanca was one of the first two women to be elected to Saint Lukes board of trustees. She founded the Council for Spanish Speaking Organizations of the Lehigh Valley and was its first Executive Director. Blanca helped found and/or run the following organizations in various capacities: The Puerto Rican Cultural Association, Casa Guadalupe, The Hispanic American Organization, the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society and Hogar Crea. These organizations remain today as part of her legacy to her beloved community.

When her leadership roles became more political and placed her further from the people she wanted to help, she chose to attend Lehigh University for a second Masters Degree, spending the next 20 years of her career as a counselor at Northampton County Community College. Here she enriched the lives of many by helping them obtain the education to improve their lives, finally retiring at almost 70 years of age.

Blanca was honored at the first ever Latinas Womens March in Philadelphia in 1999. She was voted YWCA Woman of the Year in 2000 for her 20 years of service as a counselor at NCACC. In 2000, the Morning Call listed her as one of the “Notable People of the Century”. She received the Community Service Award from the Hispanic Business Council in 2000. One of Blancas proudest moments was meeting President Carter when she was invited to represent the Hispanic Community at a multi day conference at The

White House.

Blanca will be lovingly remembered for her example, her strength, her perseverance, her humor, great faith and loving heart by her daughters, Blanca R. Davis of Brentwood, TN, Iva Elisa Ritter of Virginia Beach, VA, Melinda Faranetta of Allen, TX; grandchildren

Alex Whitaker, Donny Ritter, Cameron and Reed Faranetta and great granddaughter, Cady Whitaker.

A viewing will be held on Friday March 2, 2018 at Connell Funeral Home 245 E. Broad St., Bethlehem PA 18018 from 6-9 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday March 3rd at Holy Infancy Catholic Church 312 E. 4th St., Bethlehem PA 18015 at 10 am. Burial will be at Holy Savior Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers please make contributions to Blanca Class Smith Scholarship/Endowment c/o Northampton County College Foundation, 3835 Green Pond Rd., Bethlehem PA 18020.

Holy Saviour Mausoleum
2575 Linden St.
Bethlehem PA 18017

Friday, March 2, 2018
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Connell Funeral Home, Inc.
245 East Broad St.
Bethlehem PA 18018

Mass of Christian Burial
Saturday, March 3, 2018
10:00 AM
Holy Infancy Catholic Church
312 East Fourth St.
Bethlehem PA 18015

Funeral HomeConnell Funeral Home, Inc.
245 East Broad St.
Bethlehem PA - 18018

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Blanca Class Smith, please visit our flower store.


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