Louise Lopez Smith, 87, of Philadelphia, a beauty queen, a jazz singer, a Montessori teacher, and the mother of a best-selling author, died of a stroke Dec. 2 at Chestnut Hill Hospital.
A Pueblo Indian born in New Mexico, Mrs. Smith attended St. Catherine's Indian School and won a music scholarship to the University of New Mexico. Her studies were interrupted in 1939 when she was named Miss New Mexico.
While representing her state at the New York World's Fair, she met saxophonist John C. Smith Jr. The couple married in 1940 and performed with bands on the jazz circuit in the Southwest. Their adventures were the inspiration for the novel Stallion Gate by their son Martin Cruz Smith, perhaps best-known for the novel Gorky Park.
From 1944 to 1952, the couple lived in New York and performed with headliners such as Duke Ellington.
Mrs. Smith and her husband moved to Germantown in 1952. He went to work for Budd Co. to provide a steady income for their growing family. She sang in nightclubs, including the Latin Casino, Orsatti's and Big Bill's. Her performances were advertised on billboards that depicted her in a fringed outfit and Indian headdress with a banner, "Princess Louisa, the All-American Songbird," said another son, Jack.
When nightclubs started to close in the 1960s, Mrs. Smith followed in the footsteps of her daughter, Beatrice Golden, and earned certification as a Montessori teacher. She taught preschoolers at the Walden School in Media for several years.
She established a GED program for the United American Indians of the Delaware Valley in 1976, and later served as the organization's executive director.
In 1982, she and her husband moved to a home outside the Cochiti Pueblo reservation in New Mexico, where they tutored high school dropouts who were working toward a GED. Their son Jack wrote about their New Mexico experience in a 1993 article in the Inquirer Magazine, "Reservations for Two."
Mrs. Smith and her husband returned to Philadelphia in 2003, and she joined the choir of Our Mother of Consolation Church in Chestnut Hill. He died in 2005. Since May, she had been living at Sunrise of Chestnut Hill, a retirement residence, where she enjoyed weekly yoga classes.
Last month, she saw the Disney fantasy Enchanted with her family. "The fairy princess trying to find her way in New York City reminded me of the way Nana lived her life," her granddaughter Rebecca Rehder said. "She was always the optimist."
In addition to her three children and granddaughter, Mrs. Smith is survived by five other grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A funeral and burial were private.
Memorial donations may be made to Our Mother of Consolation Church, 9 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., Philadelphia 19118.