A 'Grand Lady'

Virginia "Lady" Owens Smith, 80, passed away Thursday, August 3, 2006. Virginia was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 21, 1925, the daughter of Florence Catherine Webb and William Pemilton Owens. After graduating from Marshall High School she joined the Aqua Follies, a synchronized swimming team in Minneapolis and acted at the Old Log Theatre. Soon after she moved to California by herself to attend the Pasadena Play House. Virginia started her fitness career at Vic Tanny's Gyms in California where she met and married her husband of 50 years, Rudolph (Rudy) Smith on September 19, 1955. Virginia and Rudy raised their 4 children: Todd, Ginny, Barbi, and Chad in Malibu, California. Virginia and Rudy moved to San Clemente, California in 1979.

For over 30 years, Virginia and Rudy developed one of the most successful health club chains in the country - Holiday Spa Health Clubs (which later became Bally Total Fitness). After retiring, they began a new adventure by taking over the Las Vegas Athletic Clubs in 1991.

Virginia pioneered the development of group fitness classes and women's programming for the modern day health club. She also created and designed the women's only gyms within the large health club facility. In addition, she developed many popular pieces of exercise equipment that are now in health clubs all over the world.

Virginia loved and dedicated her life to her family, and health and fitness, while enjoying an active lifestyle including swimming, surf-fishing, skiing and water skiing, tennis, and working out in the clubs. For over 20 years, the family spent Christmas in Utah together and at age 78 she even took up snowboarding with her grandchildren.

In October 2005, Virginia and Rudy celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and 80th birthdays together with over 200 of their family members and friends. It was a wonderful celebration of their life together; the memories of that evening will be cherished forever.

Virginia will always be remembered as a loving, selfless, strong, caring, positive, disciplined woman with unprecedented dignity and grace while always maintaining the strength of her convictions. Virginia is survived by her husband, four children and their spouses, six grandchildren (who all call her Grand Lady), brother Arthur Owens and sister Florence Lowe, as well as many nieces and nephews.

We invite you to view and sign the guest book as well as post your personal memories and tribute.

A tribute to Lady, Click here


Todd Owens Smith

Ginny Smith FitzGerald

Barb Owens Preston

Chad Owens Smith






Aria Siena

Jessica Faith


Arthur Owens

Florence Lowe