It was at the St. Joseph Catholic Church cafeteria on Virginia the first time I met Betty Knight Smith. 

    Bigger than her name and more influential than any man I’ve known in Evansville politics, Betty Knight Smith commanded respect from everyone there. I could feel it, walking into that caucus.  I was an outsider that evening at the church, new to Democrat politics, running for Frank McDonald’s City Council seat.  He was our new mayor.

    Betty Knight had her favorite female that night. It wasn’t me.  But, not long after, I witnessed what anyone who knew Betty could attest. If you were interested in making this a better city, she would be there to help you. 

    Betty Lou Jarboe, her longtime friend and “the other Betty” wrote, “Betty pushed women in the Democrat Party to get more active in their city’s development. She loved helping people and when they were in need she saw that they got it, sometimes putting them up in her home until she was sure they were cared for.”

    Betty didn’t leave politics after she retired from office. She helped out one more candidate, Rick Davis. Betty took him under her wing and served as his mentor. Although he was a tribute to her fine political skills, I just imagine his is the only race she ever lost.

    Betty Lou wrote me this evening, “Evansville has lost a great lady.  Many tears will fall tonight.”

    May Betty Knight Smith  “Rest In Peace”!

    Written By State Representative Gail Riecken


    1. Beautiful tribute, Gail! I’m thinking about the many good times at the Civic Center Inn and later at her bar/eatery in Garvin Park, and remembering the beautiful smile of a real, live amazing woman.

    2. I was a 20yo wet behind the ears kid when I found myself sandwiched between the two Killer B’s (a common nickname for BKS and BLJ) at my Great Grandmother Jarboe’s funeral. They had heard I was considering working for a republican candidate. The two of them sat me on the couch at Ziemer’s and had no problem taking me to the woodshed for my foolishness. BKS was a heck of a lady and a trailblazer for women when there were few role models available for women in politics. A grand lady who will definitely be missed.

    3. Betty’s devotion to her community was second to none but her devotion to her family and friends was paramount. When she was the recorder, I always made it a point to stop by and chat. Her stories about the political history of our Community always was so colorful. She did not have the advantages of some but I challenge anyone to show us one person that worked as hard not only for her family but for our community…she will be sorely missed. I can just see her arguing with Judge Miller at this very moment…my sympathy goes out to her great family.

    4. The race she ever lost was at the hands of treachery…some of the usual suspects…Missy Mosby, Jonathan Weaver, just for starters..

    5. BKS was my dear friend. She and Paul Bitz used to tusstle over wgo woudl control whatever meeting they went to together ! BUT Betty taught me all the basics, even walking with mebdoor-to-door in 2003 to teach me how. She was one great lady ! …HDA


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