Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a graduate of the public schools and an honor graduate of Agnes Scott College, Ellen Hines Smith was the only female in her law class at the University of South Carolina, a cum laude graduate and second in her class.
Ellen spent her life breaking glass ceilings, not aggressively, or from selfish motives, but through sheer ability, energy and a compassion for her fellow human beings.
She served as a corporate counsel for Southern Bell in Atlanta, Georgia before returning to Spartanburg. In 1970, she was appointed the first female judge in Spartanburg County and served as Chief Judge of Spartanburg County Civil and Criminal Court.
In 1974, she helped establish and was named Chair of the Board of Directors for Spartanburg Girls’ Home. Her service to this institution, always gratis, was such that in 1985, the Board of Directors named the home the “Ellen Hines Smith Girls’ Home”.
In 1977, she founded and thereafter led Piedmont Legal Services as Executive Director for nineteen years, serving seven upstate counties. Upon her retirement in 1995, the Board of Directors of Piedmont Legal Services named the office building on Main Street “The Ellen Hines Smith Civil Justice Center”. Her interest was not just for the poor, but for the entire community. In 1983, she was the first female elected to the Spartanburg City Council and served until January 1998. Her leadership resulted in her being elected the first female Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of Spartanburg.
She was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Advent, the Spartanburg County, South Carolina and Georgia Bar Associations. Ellen is survived by her husband, D. Lesesne Smith, III and her brother, Joseph E. Hines, Jr.