Lucy Smith stands in front of the new wachholz college center gym
Jun 13, 2023
Flathead Beacon

FVCC Receives $500,000 Donation for Fitness Center in the Wachholz College Center

By Beacon Staff

Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) announced this week that it received a $500,000 donation from Lucy Smith to name and support the Furlong Smith Fitness Center in the Wachholz College Center on the Kalispell campus.

The fitness center will officially open its doors in fall 2023 and provide a space for students, faculty and staff to focus on their physical and mental health. The space features a fitness area with equipment and machines, a yoga and multipurpose classroom, as well as locker rooms and showers.

“I’ve been so proud of the college and its leadership for dreaming boldly and then following their dreams for the benefit of the college and our whole community,” Smith said in a press release.

A Flathead Valley resident since 1989, Smith sang in the Glacier Symphony for years and served on its board for 15 years. FVCC invited the symphony to make the future College Center its performance home as the initial fundraising campaign was underway.

“I volunteered on FVCC’s fundraising campaign on behalf of the college and the symphony, as the two things were both close to my heart,” Smith said. “I really appreciated what the college was doing and was thrilled to see our community step up in support.”

Smith credits her parents for showing her the importance of education and connecting with your local institutions. Her mother, Helen, was the first woman in her family to graduate from college. Her father, Ken, was a Navy flight surgeon and doctor of internal medicine.

 “My parents really were community contributors,” Smith said. “They were both very quiet about what they did. My sisters and I learned the value of philanthropy and education from an early age. Those values were part of our landscape growing up and are the legacy we inherited.”

Smith chose the Furlong Smith Fitness Center name as a chance to honor her parents and her immediate family for both their consistent yet understated support of their local communities.

“We are grateful to Lucy for her outstanding support of the new Wachholz College Center and FVCC. Her generous gift will change the lives of our students. We are proud to share the Furlong Smith Fitness Center with our college community,” said FVCC President Jane Karas.

As for the fitness center connection, Smith says her childhood was full of family activities and exercising together. A self-proclaimed “gym-rat” and accomplished distance runner and cyclist, supporting the fitness center of the new building feels like home.

“My parents were married for 73 years and passed away just months apart in 2021. I was blessed to have them as my beacons and guides, and it’s lovely that I can remember them this way. The Furlongs gave me foundations for life and the Smiths brought me to my life in beautiful Montana. For more information about the Wachholz College Center and ways to get involved, visit