Elizabeth “Lili” Arnold Ruane
October 28, 1959 - February 23, 2024

obit ElizabethRuaneElizabeth Arnold Ruane, known as Lili, passed away on Friday, February 23, 2024, following a fierce battle with pancreatic cancer. She passed peacefully at her home, surrounded by family, in Shelburne, Vermont, where she resided since 1994. 

Lili was born on October 28, 1959, in New York, NY, to Elizabeth “Libba” A. Ruane (neé Greiner) and William “Bill” J. Ruane. She attended The Chapin School and Choate Rosemary Hall. She matriculated to the University of Vermont where she studied art history and met many of her dearest friends. In 1979 she transferred to the San Francisco Art Institute where she deepened her commitment to painting and the arts, and received her Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts.

In 1986 she met Michael Briggs Barrett in Killington, during a ski weekend. They were married at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with celebrations at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in September, 1988. Immediately following their wedding Lili and Michael moved to Hinesburg, Vermont, where they started their family with the birth of Julie Ruane Barrett in June, 1989. Their brood of blonde daughters grew with the births of Lucy Briggs Barrett (1990), Kelsey Elizabeth Barrett (1992), and Sophie Leanna Barrett (1994). While their marriage ended, their friendship continued and grew over the years. Michael later walked Lili down the aisle for her marriage to Winthrop “Win” H. Smith Jr. In 2009 Lili reconnected with Win while in line at the Burlington airport. They had met previously at her father’s farm in Connecticut when she was just 6 years old. They were bonded by their intertwined life paths, and love for the outdoors and skiing. Lili and Win wed at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, VT, in August, 2011. Their families instantly became a large, loving clan. 

Lili’s great joy in life was raising her four daughters and encouraging them to follow their passions. She taught them the values of kindness and gratitude, and how to shine in their individuality. Lili’s home in Shelburne was a gathering place for friends and family of all ages and was always full of love, laughter, art, wine, and music.

Lili was a talented artist, specializing in large format oil paintings. She also explored her creativity through sculpture, stained glass, and jewelry design. Her love for the arts was matched only by her dedication to her spirituality, which she deepened over the years as a student of Naam Yoga and various other practices. She was a metaphysical practitioner of harmonium, a reiki master, and a yoga teacher. 

Lili was a generous philanthropist. Her support of the arts, environmental causes, education, mental health treatment, reproductive justice, and her local community (specifically Burlington City Arts, Shelburne Farms, and the Vermont Women’s Fund) will ensure that her legacy lives on for generations. 

Lili was known by all who knew her as the embodiment of love and light. 

Lili is survived by her loving husband, Win Smith; her beloved daughters Julie Bromage, Lucy Barrett, Kelsey Barrett, and Sophie Barrett; her sister Paige Ruane; her stepchildren Heather Winklemann, Christina DiSabato, Winthrop H. Smith III, and Cameron Smith; her grandchildren Oona Bromage, Chloe Bromage, and August Doherty; her stepgrandchildren Jack DiSabato, Madyn DiSabato, Cole DiSabato, Vivian Winkelmann, Henry Winkelmann, Winthrop H. Smith IV, Tilly Smith, Teddy Smith, and Kaleena Smith; her dear friend Lara Rabideau; and her dog Zoe. 

A celebration of Lili’s life will take place on May 11, 2024, in the Breeding Barn at Shelburne Farms (Shelburne, VT). All who knew and loved Lili are invited to join.

In lieu of flowers, Lili’s family asks that you perform an act of kindness today.