110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Jun 25, 2010 - 5:47:43pm
As a colleague and friend, Mary Smithwick led us, inspired us and taught us. Upon her death June 24 at the age of 92, The Beacon contacted a few of Mary's friends and asked for remembrances and anecdotes. Less than 24 hours later, we had more than 2,000 words and dozens of photos. Many of these are printed below.
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Mary Smithwick loved life. She met each day with joy and anticipation, and shared that spirit with everyone around her. She rarely missed an opportunity to spend time with friends.
I’ve had the good fortune to work and play beside Mary for the past dozen or so years as we envisioned and created a liberal faith community in West Volusia — Mosaic Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Mary’s strength, wisdom, and leadership never wavered. She was, and always will be, an inspiration to me and the Mosaic congregation to “let it be a dance we do.”
— Susan DuPree
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Mary Smithwick nourished so many of us with her strong spirit and love of Life. Her compassion for her fellow humans had no boundaries. Life wasn't always kind to her. She surmounted many challenges, always accepting with grace what came her way. She never succumbed to the ravages of grief and depression, and in her 92 years, she experienced plenty of those. So many times I heard her say, "Any day I can wake up in the morning, hear the birds singing, see the trees swaying in the breeze, and watch the sun streaming through my windows is a very good day! I have no complaints!"
I am going to continue to draw on her strength and joy in the journey for my sustenance. She nourishes me still.
— Judy Raymond
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I moved north of DeLeon Springs in 2004, some years after Mary could no longer drive. I often picked her up to go to DeLand for various events — her UU church activities, Susan Fichter’s monthly book club, the DeLand branch of the National League of American Pen Women meetings, and various other events. We were seen together so much that when I went somewhere alone, the first question I was asked was, “Where’s Mary?”
I shall miss my riding buddy, and our philosophical chats, and sharing points of view about life. I am glad she didn’t suffer long. Being robbed of her busy, generous life would not have suited her.
Goodbye, my dear Mary.
— Miriam Withers
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On April 6, 2008, in honor of Lauren's 50th birthday, we held a party, where all guests were requested to dress as ancient Greek mythological characters.
Mary arrived in grand form, a costume of her own design, as Pan, in true Mary Smithwick form. She designed and created the costume, including faux fur leggings, horns, a Pan flute, and accented by lovely ferns that Pan himself would be proud of.
— Eric Hoffman, Lauren Griffin and Felicia Hoffman
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Mary Smithwick was introduced to The Beacon by another one of West Volusia's gems, Phil Buford.
Phil worked on Mary's Macintosh computer; she paid him in brownies. The two of them shared a devotion to living for causes larger than their own lives.
Throughout 17 years of writing columns for the newspaper, Mary was consistently unflappable and inspiring. There was always a silver lining. Obstacles simply melted away, because she assigned them no importance.
She was devoted to her little job for The Beacon, in a way that tells us how valuably and how faithfully she served the many causes dear to her heart.
Never directly, never by preaching, always by example, Mary taught many of us how to live better.
— Barb Shepherd
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Mary was the much-beloved, longtime secretary of the DeLeon Springs Garden Club. She was not a gardener, she just came for the fellowship and food! Quite a few members, myself included, have said they joined the club after hearing Mary read the minutes. Never has anyone seen a group of people with smiles on their faces while listening to the minutes of a club meeting.
— Lorraine Sullivan, president, DeLeon Springs Garden Club
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Mary was a dedicated volunteer at DeLeon Springs State Park, and was honored as District 3 Volunteer of the Month in March.
Nicknamed the "Buoy Babe," she cleaned algae off the pool floats daily, in winter and summer, and was EXTREMELY particular about their appearance.
— Karen Russi, president of the Friends of DeLeon Springs State Park "Our Park"
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I had the most incredible opportunity to spend the past six months of my life living with and caring for Mary. She and I both affectionately referred to my role in her life — not as caretaker — but as her very own "personal assistant."
One of my many jobs was to take her to doctor’s appointments, which became more and more frequent as her health failed.
As we all know, Mary had an incredible sense of humor and did not mince her words. During one visit, she came out of the back of the doctor’s office to a crowded waiting room, and without missing a beat, she said to me, "Let’s blow this joint." On one visit, she remarked to the physician, "You know, I can’t ever remember feeling this bad before, but then again, I haven’t ever been this old before."
Mary and I spent almost every morning together when she was ailing. Her intelligence, her reverence for life and her wit never faltered during the difficult months prior to her death.
She supported me as an artist, was always enthusiastic about my life, and introduced me to a zest for living I will carry with me.
— Sharon Fithian
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We had many family parties together over the years, and Mary always helped me celebrate my birthday! She was 21 days older than I am, so I always called her my “elder.”
Mary and I were usually at the museum openings, which Mary enjoyed (was it the paintings or the food?)
— Phyllis Little
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