Elmira Susannah Smyrl (Sauberan)
(1919 - 2009)

Profile:
Elmira Susannah Smyrl (Sauberan)
Nickname: Myra

Birth:
Michigan, United States of America
May 16, 1919

Passing:
Montana, United States of America
September 6, 2009


Memorial
Elmira Susannah Sauberan Smyrl, known to her friends and family as Myra, passed away at the age of 90 on Sunday, September 6, 2009, at her residence in Bozeman.

Myra was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 16, 1919, to Isaac Sauberan and Susannah Cooper Sauberan. Susannah’s family migrated from Great Britain to Canada to Michigan, where she met and married Isaac, a French immigrant, who came to the United States through Ellis Island as a young boy.

Myra was a pioneer among women in the field of architecture, earning her Bachelors of Science in Architectural Engineering at the University of Texas in 1941. She continued graduate studies at the University of Texas from 1943 to 1945. As one of the very few licensed female architects and professional engineers, she partnered with her college sweetheart and architect husband, John Linn Scott, in a small architectural firm in Austin, Texas, for ten years. The firm specialized in commercial, governmental and public school buildings. Plaques commemorating their work on several Austin public buildings remain today. While practicing architecture, Myra discovered her love for teaching when she began her teaching career as a part-time architecture instructor at the University of Texas. In her leisure time, Myra enjoyed square dancing and enthusiastically participated in club dances and events.

Myra continued her education at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she obtained her Master's Degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1955. Her thesis project was the design of a farm-based living and educational facility for economically disadvantaged, at-risk children, known as the School for Family Living. This pet project was the germination of her life-long interest in the essential and thoughtful integration of geographical, environmental and human-purpose design elements.

Myra moved to Bozeman in 1955 to begin teaching at MSU. As a tenured professor in the MSU Architecture Department, she taught until her retirement in 1986. Early in her MSU career, Myra practiced architecture part-time with Fred Willson's firm and was involved with the MSU Fieldhouse project. A life-long academic, she continued her studies while teaching and obtained a second Master's Degree in Applied Sciences at MSU. In the 1960's, she was also the Director of the Department of Defense’s Civil Defense Professional Development Center at MSU, conducting seminars for architects and engineers throughout the Northwest on nuclear fallout shelter design requirements. She was also active as a consultant to the National Academy of Sciences’ Advisory Committee on Civil Defense. During her tenure at MSU, she was among the female professors who prevailed in a 1970’s federal court case proving institutional gender discrimination. Myra continued her education in the 1970’s, commuting to Georgetown University between teaching semesters to complete her course work toward a doctorate of philosophy with a dissertation related to Kant’s Model of The Mind.

In addition to Myra’s educational career, she and her family raised and trained Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs and she kept Shelties as pets until shortly before her death. She and her husband, Sam Smyrl, were among the founders of the Gallatin Dog Club. Initially intended as an obedience-oriented club, it evolved to sponsoring conformation and obedience shows sanctioned by the American Kennel Club at the MSU Fieldhouse. In addition to teaching obedience classes and participating with her personal dogs in regional dog shows, Myra organized a children's drill team, where children and their dogs performed complicated marching routines to Sousa marches. The drill team performed at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds and was broadcast on Butte television.

Over her years in her beloved Bozeman, Myra’s enjoyed daily meals at The Bungalow and 4 Bees, where she was a well-known regular. For leisure, Myra enjoyed her annual vacations to Canada and frequented Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. Never having owned a television, Myra was an avid reader of murder mysteries and historical fiction. She was a life-time member of the National Geographic Society, The Smithsonian Institute and the Gallatin Historical Society and was a passionate, life-long student of American Indian history.

Myra is survived by her daughter, Donna Linn Crossland of St. Simons Island, Georgia, her two grandchildren, Teresa Linn Inscoe of Bozeman and James Scott Williss of Arab, Alabama, and four great-grandchildren, Bradley, Lindsey, Jackson and Nicholas. At Myra’s request, the family will not hold a public memorial service.

The family has set up a memorial website at www.ilasting.com/RememberingMyra.php where family, friends, former students and colleagues are invited to remember Myra and to share reflections and personal stories. Anyone interested in making a contribution on Myra’s behalf may direct donations to the American Indian Studies Program at MSU or Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

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Guest Book (8 entries)
HELLO MY NAME IS DAVE SMITH I HAVE NO RELATION TO MRS SAURBERAN I WAS AT A ANTIQUE STORE IN DETROIT AND BOUGHT A BUNCH OF OLD NEWS PAPERS I HAVE A PART OF A FRONT PAGE ARTICLE WITH MRS SAUBERAN ON THE FRONT PAGE FROM BEING HIT BY A UNKNOWN DRIVER THIS PAPER IS FROM 11/12/1935 WOULD LOVE TO GIVE THIS TO HER FAMILY PLEASE IF ANYONE CAN CALL ME OR EMAIL ME 586-549-9008 I LIV IN CLINTON TWP MI DAVE SMIYH
dave smith (none)
July 8th, 2017
A great friend and teacher - and one of the "old school architects" - a command of structure, materials and design - God Bless
Jeff Kestle (student)
March 7th, 2012
I was an architecture student from 65-68, She came into the classroom dressed eclectically. She exuded confidence and intelligence. She was very tough and noncompromising. We all admired her and even though her brand was tough love she was definitely liked and respected. I then served in the military came back to MSU and built a personal program in Landscape Architecture there graduating with a BScA, then an MLA from the University of Illinois.
Most of my technical drawing skills came directly from Elmira. Quite the lady!
Ken Dockham (student)
November 2nd, 2009
Elmia was a complicated person. Friends renting rooms from her had a completely different experience than her students. I liked her, and wished she was more approachable after her retirement. I learned alot from her, and enjoyed the many stories others told me. Elmira was a larger-than-life character, a mystery to most of us -- most definitely memorable.
Jennifer Smith Mitchell (former student)
September 20th, 2009
Elmyra Smyrl was one of my chosen thesis advisers in 1985. In addition to her being an outstanding and tireless instructor, her life history amazed me in the 1980's and continues to amaze me today. To have been an architect, in Texas, in the 1940's, AND female is in and of itself an incredible statistic. The fact that I chose her as a thesis advisor, even after it became necessary for me to take her "construction documents" course TWICE, is a testament to the respect that I had for Elmyra.

I, and many other students, can remember her coming through studios at 11:00 at night to help us out. (Ask the current Professor Livingston if he still remembers that "Cement is a powder, concrete is a building material" from 1980.)

I cherished my time with her in school (at least 85% of the time) and I will cherish her memory ALWAYS.

It was an honor having Elmyra Smyrl as an instructor, and she will be missed.
Peter Tennant (Former Student)
September 17th, 2009
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"So grateful to have this website to introduce me to my friend's grandmother. Having lost my last grandparent at the age of 13, I'm astonished/envious that someone of my age (late 40s) had a living grandparent until just recently. Blessed be, Myra!"
Katja Edgar
September 21st, 2009
"I miss you grandma! You were a challenge and a delight, a beacon of light for high achieving women everywhere. I smile daily when I think of your wit and talent, stubbornness and eccentricities. I love you!! Shine on!!"
Teri Inscoe
September 17th, 2009

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