Margaret Marian Smith was born in Anderson, South Carolina, in 1925. She graduated from Lebanon High School in 1941 and entered Anderson College, where she received an associate’s degree in business. Following completion of the business program, she took the Civil Service Exam and was assigned to the Department of Civilian Retirement Records of the War Department in Washington, D.C., in June 1943. She was later transferred to the Decorations and Awards Branch of the War Department, where she worked for General Emmett Adams in the Pentagon.
Smith enlisted in the Marines Corps on 13 February 1945. She attended boot camp at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina, and then was sent back to Washington, where she became aide to General Alexander Archer Vandegriftt, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. On 19 June 1946, Smith was discharged from the Marine Corps, but continued in her same position as a civilian through 1947. She returned to Anderson and worked as and aide to the superintendent of La France Industries textile plant until after her marriage to Mays Smith.
The Smiths lived in several North Carolina cities before settling permanently in Greensboro, where Margaret Smith began work at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) in 1963. She was hired as a part-time aid to Chancellor Otis Singletary, but went full-time in 1965. She continued to serve in the chancellor’s office when Singletary’s successor, James Ferguson, was appointed in 1967. Smith moved to Wallace, North Carolina, in 1970, but returned to work for Ferguson in 1972. She then served as an administrative assistant in the office of the dean of the School of Business. Following the appointment of William Moran in 1979, she returned to the chancellor’s office to become his aide. Smith retired from UNCG around 1994 and continued to live in Greensboro.