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1953 Anita 2024

Anita Cvitanovich Smith

April 19, 1953 — May 6, 2024

Anita Cvitanovich Smith, 71, passed away from small cell bile duct cancer on May 6th, 2024 at Clermont Park in Denver, CO. Anita was born and raised in Denver, the youngest daughter of Patricia van Almen and Joe Cvitanovich. During her childhood, she performed in USO shows with her sisters and attended North High School, where she starred in the All-City Musical as Anna in “The King & I”. Anita earned a BA in Theatre at the University of Colorado.

 After graduating, she moved to New York City where she spent several years as part of the Floating Rep theater company, producing and acting off-off-Broadway. She worked a range of different jobs to support her artistic work. She loved recounting these stories, including a job offer at Oscar de la Renta, nearly being recruited as a perfume ‘nose’, waiting tables, and a short period as a music therapist. While working as a secretary at Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young), she met her much-loved husband Kevin Smith who worked as an accountant.

After marriage, they moved to Westport, Connecticut, where Anita focused her energies on motherhood, giving birth to Allison and twins Sara and Betsy. In 1988, Anita returned to Colorado with her family. She was a dedicated and loving mother who supported her daughters’ activities with enthusiasm and artistic flair. She worked as the music teacher at The Logan School for Creative Learning, sharing her love of American folk music and deep personal compassion with her students. She firmly believed that everyone can (and deserves to) sing, and also loved advanced vocal harmony. Shortly after entering hospice care, she was able to attend a gathering organised by her former students at the Logan School and honored by a music fund started in her name. She was deeply touched by the way her students carried music forward in their lives. 

Anita was a talented singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter. She was also a true connoisseur of everything artistic—from making up stories for her family, to sewing beautiful handmade Halloween costumes, to seeking out the bold and risk-taking art and music she especially loved. She was the most incredible companion for any show or museum visit, in the way she would notice and value every detail.

She was also active within the Denver theatre community, where her daughters participated in numerous productions, the figure skating community based at DU, and the Eaglecrest High School Performing Arts Patrons.

Later in life, she continued to have a deep connection to music, and was part of the Swallow Hill Music community, where she played guitar and sang in numerous groups and concerts.

She was proud to have worked in the Denver field office for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, and was a featured spokesperson for Colorado’s Donor Alliance, supporting Kevin’s work on the Board and sharing the difference her kidney transplant (lovingly nicknamed ‘Gus’) made in her life. 

Anita was first diagnosed with cancer in 2002, and she beat incredible odds to recover and enjoy another 22 years of life, in spite of the ongoing medical challenges that accompanied her life going forward.

Anita unfailingly saw the beauty in everyone. She always championed the underdog, was known to never pass up an opportunity to compliment a stranger’s tattoo to make them smile, and cherished her close relationships with fierce loyalty. Her dedication as a mother never wavered — even in their adulthood she enthusiastically supported her girls in following their dreams, having wonderful international adventures in the process, and lovingly cared for two daughters through their own cancer diagnoses and recoveries.

Anita is survived by her husband Kevin and her daughters and their families and her sisters: daughter Allison Smith of London, UK (and her daughter Rose and co-parent Zachary Rothstein); daughter Sara Mazzoni of Sydney, Australia (and her son Joe Kevin and daughter Lucy Anita and husband Alex); daughter Betsy Kumar of Seattle, WA (and her husband Vikram); sister JoAnne Hammond of San Diego, CA (and her husband Carl); and sister Linda Arellano of Denver, CO. She was a beloved Grammy to her grandchildren, to whom she passed on her love of music. 

 The family would like to thank the dedicated staff at Clermont Park and her caregiver Davina Alvarado for their kindness during the final stages of Anita’s life, with special gratitude to Dr. Gregory Schlessinger, Dr. Robert Jotte, and Dr. Jim Pomposelli for their meaningful care over the years.

 A celebration of life will be organized for a future date. 

For those wishing to honor Anita’s memory, the most meaningful tribute is to register as an organ donor to help pass on the gift of life. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society.

 

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