For more than 90 years, Trinidad State has been blessed with voices that shared this understanding, sustaining this commitment to excellence. High standards exist because people create them— setting an example for those who will follow. One such voice was Anna Smith Bacus.
In 1991, her sons, Roger and Ken Smith, created the Anna Smith Bacus Scholarship.
“Our mother clearly dedicated so much of her life to Trinidad State Junior College, and influenced so many students, that we were delighted to make our contribution to the college,” Ken Smith explained. “Our mother was a strong influence and inspiration to us. She was the same for literally thousands of students over the years.”
In the years that followed, Anna’s impact at Trinidad State would inspire additional family contributions. Most recently, Roger Smith made a generous donation to the English Department, where Anna taught for twenty years.
“She just blossomed here,” Roger Smith said, noting that she had joined Trinidad State, “at a time that was very hard after my father died.”
In reflecting on Anna’s impact, Pete Deluca, former VP of Development at the Foundation, explained, “She was a forward thinking faculty member, who took the time and interest to get to know her students, to understand their life situations, and often to appreciate their different cultures. She shared tolerance, understanding and acceptance with all her students.”
Anna’s unwavering dedication helped establish a culture of excellence at Trinidad State—a culture that guides us today, and into the future.
Smith’s Early Life
Born in Starkville, Anna would become the valedictorian of her class at Hoehne High School. She then earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Northern Colorado, and her master’s degree from Colorado University in Boulder.
Anna subsequently began her teaching career in 1934, in one-room country schoolhouses in Apishapa, Model, and Chicosa—small communities all located near Trinidad.
Eventually, she would meet her husband, Bill Smith, and they would start their family together, raising two boys, Roger and Ken.
Following the sudden, unexpected death of her husband, Anna left Elkhart, Kansas (where she had taught in the high school for many years), to return to her hometown of Trinidad to be near family.
Teaching at the college level had always been Anna’s dream—and in 1965, upon learning of her plans to return to Trinidad, President Guy Davis was elated to hire her as an English professor.
Anna immersed herself in academic life, quickly becoming part of the college’s close-knit family. As a faculty member, she was patient and kind, but also demanding. Anna took great joy in the diverse student body at TSJC, often saying she learned as much from her students as they did from her.
This interest in students from different backgrounds led to hosting student groups in her home, supporting their athletic events, and sponsoring clubs and special interest groups. Anna also enjoyed the Foreign Student Association, sharing festivities and banquets that featured their native foods.
Anna also took great interest in gun-smithing, the building trades, and the auto body/auto mechanics and electronics programs. She served as a faculty sponsor for the Student Education Association, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Student Association, and Women’s Student Association. She faithfully attended basketball games, and baseball games (as classes permitted).
One of her greatest joys was to see her academic transfer students complete their Bachelor (and sometimes, Graduate) degrees after transferring from TSJC, watching proudly as they became successful in their chosen careers.
And, of course, Anna continued her work in the classroom—educating and challenging her students, encouraging them to pursue their highest aspirations.
When Anna Smith Bacus retired from Trinidad State in 1985, her teaching career spanned an incredible 51 years. But retirement did not bring an end to her involvement.
In the decades that followed, she would maintain contact with many former students—a long list of people who considered Anna as a defining influence in their lives.
Celebrating a Legacy
In 2013, she would celebrate her 100th birthday, before passing away a few weeks later. Anna had lived to see thirteen U.S. presidents, two World Wars, the Great Depression, Women’s Suffrage, a man on the moon, and generations of women rise successfully in the workforce. She also lived to see students conduct research on the information super highway of the Internet.
In 2017, Anna was inducted posthumously into the TSJC Educational Foundation Hall of Fame. At her 100th birthday celebration and Hall of Fame induction, friends, colleagues and former students attended, wrote tributes, share anecdotes—testaments to Anna’s impact, and to the importance of education, kindness and unconditional love.
Once again, great educational institutions are forged over time, across generations. High standards exist because people create them—setting an example for those who will follow. Today’s educators and administrators stand on the shoulders of those who came before, and Trinidad State is blessed by the legacy of Anna Smith Bacus.