Helen Smedley has lived in Mountain Green since the 1960s and remembers some of the first homes being built in the Highlands subdivision. She says she was born in the best little town in America –Fillmore, Utah. She said “it’s drier than a bone” and that her dad used to say “frogs are 25 years old before they know how to swim.” Despite growing up during the Depression, she had a wonderful childhood. Her family grew their own food and had animals, so they were self-sufficient. “We didn’t know we were poor because everyone else was to,” she added.
Her dad was a miller who refined grain, flour, cereal. Smedley was the youngest of five children and had two brothers and two sisters. After she graduated from Millard High School, she attended Utah State University, where she earned a teaching certificate in elementary education. She got married her junior year and then went back to finish her degree. Helen always loved drama and literature and was in plays in high school. She was in one play at USU, and she said she regrets not taking more theater classes because she ended up writing road shows and putting on plays for the community for many years.
Helen married Dale Smedley in 1945. About this time, Dale went from farming to plumbing. A sewer system was being built from the Navy Base to the Great Salt Lake through farms and little towns. He was advised by the mayor to put it through town, so people could hook up to the sewer and put indoor bathrooms in their homes. “It was very fortuitous, it changed our lives.”
Dale’s company evolved into a plumbing and heating company and then into construction and development companies and at that time, was the largest company of its kind west of the Mississippi. A lot of young people were building new homes after the war and Dale was able to get lots of work. They lived in Syracuse for almost 20 years and during that time had six children: Terry, Scott, Marilyn, Craig, Melanie and Lorie.
Many in the community know that Dale Smedley and Kent Smith developed the Highlands subdivision. Dale was hired to put in the roads and when the Montana-Utah Construction Co. went bankrupt, he and Kent bought the land and developed the subdivision.
The Smedleys built their house in Syracuse, and Helen did not want to move. She believed in living in a house all your life and raising your family there. In 1964, the day before Christmas, one of her sons said, “Let’s go up to the Highlands for Christmas and go tubing.” She had just finished 32 retold stories for the surrounding communities from Kaysville to Roy, and as Relief Society president, had just finished doing the ward Christmas party. She had put together widow baskets for the ward and barely had a day to get Christmas finished for her family.
She thought about it, and said to her husband, let’s go to one of the houses you have just built. I’ll put a blanket on the floor, and we’ll heat chili in the fireplace and go tubing. They pushed their Christmas tree and presents into a van and spent Christmas in the Highlands. They never went back to their other house in Syracruse. Paneled trucks that were doing work on houses in the Highlands brought their furniture to them bit by bit.
Helen is still in the Highlands, although she said she has moved within the Highlands more than anyone else that still lives in the area. One day she had a quilting group at her home, and he husband came in and mouthed “Do you mind if I sell this house?” She couldn’t quite tell what he was saying and shrugged. While she was finishing the quilting group, he sold the house, and they moved. Eventually, they built the house that overlooked the old Highway and that is where she raised her children. All but one of her children graduated from Morgan High School; their oldest finished his last year at Clearfield High. Helen and Dale also took in other children to help out from time to time. Once she had five boys living in her home—besides her own family. When her oldest son went on a mission to Thailand, they had a chance to travel in most of Asia. They brought a boy back from Taiwan to live with them and later his sister joined the family. She has 30 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren.
After her family was essentially raised, her daughter Melanie, built a home next door. Melanie and her husband, Kelly, built an apartment for Dale and Helen when Dale started having health problems and she has lived there ever since. Dale passed away in 2002. The day he died, he had just given a speech at an event honoring him for putting in the road that leads to Antelope Island. Before Dale passed away, they were able to fulfill a year-long mission in Louisville, Ky. for the LDS church. Together, they also did extensive traveling—seeing many countries in the world.
Anyone that knows Helen appreciates her story-telling ability. Her other passions are writing poetry, quilting and reading. She spent about 30 years serving in Primary, and she taught the cultural refinement lessons in Relief Society for many years—among her many church callings. She also judged elections and held voting in her home for many years. Helen says she has lived in the best of times—spanning from the Depression, the boom after World War II and seeing modern technology developed.