Lois Smith Dwan who was born in Baker Oregon on December 27, 1913 died yesterday at the age of 91 at home in Santa Monica, California. She was the daughter of Allan A Smith and Mable Garrett Smith. Alan and Mable both began their careers in Baker as school teachers at Baker High School. It was there that they met. Alan went on to become a lawyer and a state senator from Oregon. Lois graduated from Baker, Oregon in 1931. She had a younger brother Hugh Smith who also graduated from Baker High School and went on to Santa Clara College and Harvard law school.
After graduating from Baker High School, Lois went to Dominican College in San Rafael, California where she graduated with a BA majoring in English in 1935. After graduating from Dominican College she returned to Baker and worked on the Baker newspaper as their social columnist. She also wrote for the Red Cross.
She returned to San Francisco to do graduate work at Stanford University in English. When at Stanford University she met her future husband Robert Dwan. They were married in San Francisco in 1940. They were married for 64 years. They had five children. Her husband went on to direct the Groucho Marx show “You Bet Your Life” on radio and television
She began her career with the Los Angeles Times first writing for the Los Angeles Magazine. Her column was called ‘The Talk of the Town’ . Each month she did a major interview. She did one on the dress designer, Rudy Guinriche, who invented the topless bathing suit. She also wrote a piece on a movement in Crenshaw District where they were doing an experiment with blacks and whites living together. She worked there for a couple of years. She wrote a Barbecue cook book called “How to Entertain Outdoors” . It was a series by Amy Vanderbuilt. She also wrote for Glamour Magazine.
She then was asked to be the restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times in 1966. She was there until 1984. Her last column was on September 9, 1984.
She was one of the first restaurant critics to pay attention to the chefs at restaurants. She would spend time interviewing the chefs about their vision and how they prepared their food.
She said when she reviewed a restaurant she considered the food first, then the service, the price and the ambiance.
The restaurant chefs gave her a Gala Tribute for her retirement at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in 1984. The whole restaurant community got together and put on the affair. They raised over $35,000 to establish a scholarship in her name.
She is survived by five children and seven grandchildren. Her three sons are Robert, Alan and James and her two daughters are Judith Hallet and Katherine Huet.
Donations can be sent to the Lois Dwan Fund for Graduate Culinary Studies at the American Institute of Wine and Food.
Each year, the Los Angeles Chapter reinforces The AIWF’s commitment to education through its scholarship program for graduating high school students. Since 1999, the chapter has sponsored “The AIWF Los Angeles Chapter Lois Dwan Scholarships”, awarding scholarships to outstanding students from L.A. Unified School District high schools. These students have shown exceptional culinary skills and talents in class and in competition. and a little love.
Used with permission from: The Record Courier, Baker City, Oregon, March, 2005
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor