Rebcca Jane Reid Smiley – The Suffolk News-Herald
Rebecca Jane Reid Smiley’s nine-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease ended on July 17, 2021, while she resided in Williamsburg Landing.
Rebecca was born in Suffolk on November 5, 1949, the youngest of three children of the late William Harrell Reid and Virginia West Reid. She graduated from Suffolk High School in 1967 and St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1969. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from American University in Washington, DC, in 1984.
Rebecca moved to Washington, DC, in 1970, where she worked for two members of Congress, Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt and Representative Tom Railsback, as well as for the Ethyl Corporation as an assistant to the president. She was elected vice president of government relations for the Chicago Board of Trade in Washington, served on the board of directors of Women in Government Relations, and worked on two commissions for Presidents Reagan and Bush.
In 1984, she married Donald Elbert Smiley, vice president of Exxon Corporation, at Historic Christ Church in Weems. Rebecca and Don together bought a house in Irvington, which they expanded from a summer home to their retirement home. They enjoyed living in the Northern Neck and traveling together until Don’s death in 2008.
In 2010, Rebecca found a second chance in love with Carl Blades. Rebecca and Carl enjoyed traveling together, taking walks, attending Grace Episcopal Church, serving their community, and spending time with their families. They lived together on Glebe Road and in RWC-Irvington. Carl describes Rebecca as “everything is beautiful”.
In addition to Carl Blades, Rebecca is survived by her sister, Constance Leigh Reid Happel, of Suffolk; her brother, William Harrell Reid Jr. (Anita Pickett), of Corvallis, Oregon; his beloved niece and nephew, Katherine Leigh Happel Gorden (Dennis), of Ormond Beach, Fla., and H. Jason Happel (Tracey), of Hagerstown, Maryland; great-nieces and nephews, William Nicholas Happel, Elizabeth Reid Happel, Charlotte Leigh Happel and Caroline Elizabeth Happel; and a host of cousins. She is also survived by two stepchildren, Edna Milton Smiley and Leigh Smiley Blair, children of her late husband, Don, as well as Leigh’s daughter, Michelle.
Rebecca was involved in countless community activities, volunteer efforts, and philanthropic work while residing in Northern Neck. She was passionate about educating children and enjoyed tutoring young children with reading difficulties. Rebecca’s memberships and associations during her lifetime are too numerous to name in full, but include the Animal Welfare League and serve on the board of directors of the Lancaster County Red Cross, Virginia Quality Life and Rappahannock Westminster -Canterbury. At Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock, she was a member of the Grace Church Foundation, Senior Warden, the Vestry, and served on the advocacy, nominating, finance, research, stewardship and compensation committees. Many Northern Neck nonprofits have honored Rebecca’s work in perpetuity.
Rebecca was extraordinarily bright and generous, had a beautiful smile and loved nature. She leaves behind a legacy of kindness, generosity and compassion that will last forever. Her life was a shining example of constant service and love for others, and unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ.
A memorial service will be held at Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock at a later date. Arrangements are made by Currie Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the RWC Fellowship Fund, the Animal Welfare League of Kilmarnock, or any charity of their choice.