September 10, 2010

What You Didn't Read In Smith's Obituary

[Via Vassar]
A few bloggers have picked up on a detail that was only hinted at in the obituaries for former Vassar president Virginia B. Smith: she was a lesbian.

A blogger for "Band of Thebes" writes about how unique it was to be in a gay relationship in 1953, when Smith was first with her partner of 57 years, Dr. Florence Oaks:

"One of the most fascinating -- and unexplored -- details in her obituary is that she is survived by Dr. Florence Oaks, her partner of fifty-seven years. They've been together since 1953. A little perspective: They'd already been together fourteen years when, in 1967, Mike Wallace announced in CBS Reports: The Homosexuals that the homosexual is neither capable of nor interested in a longterm relationship."

The blogger continues to write about the unfortunate fact that even after the relationship of almost sixty years, Oaks cannot receive social security benefits:

"After fifty-seven years together, Oaks is not eligible to receive Smith's surviving spouse social security benefits, as she would be if they were a straight couple even if they had divorced in 1963."

San Francisco's Edge also noted that Smith was a "lesbian president."

1 comment:

RH said...

They were my neighbors growing up. Great neighbors and partners to each other. They were always together.