Obituary: Adele Smullen

A guiding light within the Glasgow community


My mother Adele Smullen,who has died aged 83, ran the Jewish Girl Guides in Glasgow for well over 20 years. Generations of girls who grew up in Glasgow from 1956 to 1978 were influenced by her in the days before computers, iPhones, and colour TV, when the Glasgow Jewish community numbered over 15,000.

It all began when Adele, then aged 19, was asked by the rabbi at Giffnock Synagogue, to lead a Girl Guides troop which would see her commitment with the 5th Giffnock girl guides grow as they went from strength to strength.Many who were members at that time praised the influence and inspiration she had on their lives. She gave much of her time to the Jewish community in Glasgow, and was on the synagogue board for a time.

Adele also ran the shul friendship club, for older, retired and often partially housebound members of the community. She organised meetings, speakers, outings, events, food and also involved and inspired other younger community members in helping run the club. This role was carried out for over 20 years until her health prevented her from continuing. In this role she had a major impact on the elderly members of the community, giving them something to look forward to each week whether it was company, an outing, eating or listening to some of her father’s terrible jokes. She was also a long-term member of the Childrens’ Panel in Glasgow which exists to help protect the safety and well-being of vulnerable children and young people.

Apart from her communal work, one of her main interests was supporting the Jewish Male Voice Choir. Any visitor glancing through her lounge window would see her surrounded by more than ten men. An excellent pianist, she would play during choir rehearsals and at some of their concerts.

Adele Smullen was born to Alex and Phoebe Isaacs in Glasgow, the eldest of three children, and grew up within a strict and formal Jewish home. As the eldest, she had a strong role in her siblings’ upbringing, particularly her youngest brother Ronnie, due to the large age difference between them. She was very close to him until his untimely death a few years ago.

She attended Jewish youth groups as a teenager and was introduced to Clarence Smullen by his brother Arnold. A notorious time-keeper, she was an hour late for her first date with him, but he still waited for her until she arrived. They married on June 21, 1956 when she was 19, and they had two children, David and myself. They were very happily married for over 62 years. During the time of large extended families, we grew up in a house full of love, laughter, family, yiddishkeit and food. Our home was literally an open house, filled with jokes, card games, laughter and singing, to which uncles, cousins, even the butcher and baker were welcome. Often more than 20 people came for Seder, for Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat afternoon tea.

Dedicated to family, friends and the community, Adele was honoured with an invitation to the royal garden party by the Queen and was also recognised by the Chief Guide for her commitment to the Guide movement. Giffnock Synagogue recently made a presentation to her in recognition for her work with the friendship club. Two weeks before her death she celebrated Clarence’s 90th birthday with the family.

She is survived by Clarence, David and myself, her three grandchildren, Rachel, Andy and Dougie and her brother-in-law Arnold.



Adele Smullen: born October 28,1936. Died February 2, 2019


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