Herbert ‘Bert’ Smith Slafter, Ed.D.


Dec. 30, 1934 – March 11, 2020

Herbert Smith Slafter, Ed.D., 85, died Wednesday, March 11, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at home in Phoenix, Ariz., in the presence of his wife of 66 years, Cecil Rae Slafter.

Bert was born in Haig, Neb., on Dec.30, 1934, and
grew up in Wyoming. He graduated from Shoshoni
High School as class president and enrolled at the
University of Texas in El Paso in 1953 on a basket-
ball scholarship later transferring to the University
of Wyoming on a scholastic scholarship. A recipient
of a bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degrees from
the University of Wyoming, Bert dedicated himself
to the cause of public education. Over a career of al-
most 50 years he served as a teacher, coach, school
principal and superintendent of schools in Pinedale,
dean of instruction and president of Western Wyoming Community College and assistant to the chancellor for instructional programs in the Alabama Department of Postsecond- ary Education. In these roles Bert championed artistic, technical and academic fields and dramatically improved the funding, instructional quality and critical oversight at colleges and schools in Wyoming and Alabama.

Bert married his high school sweetheart, Cecil Rae Picard, the summer before enroll- ing in college, and the two of them raised their children, Solon Smith Slafter and Stewart Raymond Slafter, in Rock Springs. As a believer in the utility and transformative power of higher education Bert provided the unquestioning support necessary for both his children and his wife to obtain college degrees.

After retirement from the State of Alabama in 2002 Bert spent his winters in Phoenix, Ariz., and his summers at the Wyoming cattle ranch where his wife grew up. Repairing fences, rebuilding mangers in an antique barn, hunting for arrowheads and designing landscape features became the dominant pursuits of his life. He enjoyed trips with his family throughout the Western United States, Hawaii, Mexico, Germany and Italy before the encoachment of dementia made further travel impossible.

Bert was preceded in death by his father, Elmer, his mother, Mildred, his stepmother, Freda, seven siblings and his oldest son Solon. He is survived by a half-brother, Ronald, many nieces and nephews, his wife, Cecil, his younger son, Stewart, his daughter-in-law, Amy and his grandson, Marco of Oakland, Calif. Everyone who met Bert knew him to be extremely kind, tolerant and a patient man who never spoke ill of anyone. He loved his wife and children more deeply than words could convey.

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