Ambia Marie (Olsson) Smith


The daughter of Charles R. Olsson and Ruth M. (Bostrom) Olsson, Ambia was born in Boston on August 26, 1937, and passed away in Salem on February 6. She grew up in Boston and in Winthrop, then attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, became an accomplished commercial designer for major clients, and taught graphic arts at the Museum School.  Ambia and her high school sweetheart, Ken Smith, married in 1961 and spent most of their adult lives in Manchester-by-the-Sea where they raised a family that was her pride and joy: Kirsten Smith-Page (David) of Manchester, Edward Smith (Julie) of Manchester, Andrew Smith of Manchester, and Thurston Smith (Kim Ngoc) of Clifton, VA.  Grandchildren are Jennifer Page of Somerville, Sonja Page-Sobecki (Rob) of Somerville, Camden Smith of Boston, Brittany and Annika Smith of Manchester, and Aaron and Ambia Smith of Clifton, VA.  Ambia was pre-deceased by granddaughter Claudia Marie Smith of Manchester.

Ambia was known as someone with a remarkable range of talents:  an extraordinary mother, an amazing cook, an organizer of civic activities, and a committed gardener – her gardens on School Street were featured in many Manchester Garden Tours and she welcomed all passersby to come in and enjoy her gardens. She loved people and would invite scores of friends and family to her parties.  Among her many passions, Ambia had acquired a love of the ocean at an early age by crewing aboard her father’s Alden schooner and by racing Hustlers and Indians in Boston Harbor. In later years, Ambia and Ken, often accompanied by their children and grandchildren, enjoyed day sailing and summer cruises along the Maine Coast aboard their vessels, Valhalla and Polaris.  Cruising was subsequently replaced by the pleasures of a cottage on Penobscot Bay in Bayside, Maine. She was immensely proud of her Scandinavian heritage and was a very active member of the Sons of Norway, for which she played an important role in the annual planning and execution of the Nordic Fest at the Topsfield Fair Grounds.  She also greatly enjoyed painting in a Norwegian style known as Rosemaling. 

As her children grew, she became interested in the plight of special needs children, as a result of which she became Co-Chair of the Council for Children, a state-wide organization that successfully promoted the adoption of MGL. Chapter 766 which guarantees that special needs children receive appropriate services. Ambia also became a special needs teacher at Landmark School and at Gloucester public schools.  She worked tirelessly for the underserved and conducted Special Friends cooking and craft classes.  In addition, she led the Manchester Band Parents, was President of the Manchester Woman’s Club, and participated actively in the Sacred Concert Chorale.  Ken’s career at MIT offered an opportunity for extensive travel and they visited much of the world. Together, they participated in a number of efforts to forge international and academic exchanges.   They shared a curiosity about others and a sensitivity to their needs that is evidenced by their founding of a library in rural Vietnam. 

Ambia will forever be remembered as someone who deeply loved her family and passionately advocated for those who needed it most.

At Ambia’s request, services were private.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Salvation Army, to Operation Smile, or to the charity of one’s choice.

andrew smith, ruth m. bostrom olsson, ken smith, manchester, musotiminae, sonja page-sobecki, jennifer page of somerville, kirsten smith, manchester woman’s club, edward smith (julie), kirsten smith-page (david), sonja page-sobecki (rob), ruth m. (bostrom) olsson, claudia marie smith, ambia smith, landmark school, edward smith, ambia marie, sons of norway, annika smith, kim ngoc, thurston smith, camden smith, jennifer page