Valerie Smith, 84
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Valerie LeBrun Smith, 84, passed away peacefully at home with family by her side on December 4, 2018.
Born to Thomas Walter LeBrun and Vera Nordenberg LeBrun on October 2, 1934, in Rockville Centre, N.Y., Valerie grew up, along with brothers Thomas and Russell in Pine Plains, N.Y. There, her family lived on a farm named Sky Acres, a defining experience in her life.
Valerie graduated from the Oak Grove School for Girls in East Vassalboro, Maine, and then Wellesley College in 1956 with a major in Bible Studies. While working as a social worker for the Boston Missionary Society, Valerie met her husband, Howard William Smith, a Harvard Divinity School student. From the first moment she saw Howard to his passing some 50 years later, he was the love of her life. Married in 1957, they started their family in Hanover, N.H., and Saxton’s River, Vt., where Howard was a Congregational minister.
Valerie dedicated her passion and skills to raising children and being of invaluable service to their parishioners. During the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement led them to Silver Spring, Maryland, and the South Side of Chicago, where they became involved in programs working to establish racial integration and fair housing. Next, the family settled in the Hartford, Conn., area where Valeria helped Howard create an executive search practice. In addition, she served on the boards of the Interval House (home for battered women) and Loaves & Fishes (community food pantry). In the last chapter of her professional career, Valerie worked as the Assistant to the Executive Director of Catholic Family Services in Hartford.
The couple retired to Sandisfield, Mass., in 1987, enjoying some of the happiest and most festive years of their union. In many ways it was, for Valerie, a return to her roots, as she could once again enjoy the simple pleasures of living in a farmhouse and among a community of neighbors where each stood ready and willing to help another. In 2001, Valerie and Howard made their final home in Great Barrington.
Valerie’s Christian faith was the bedrock of her personal and family values and provided an enduring ethic by which she chose to lead her life, and one which she passed on to her children and grandchildren. In every community in which she lived, she was an active member of a church, most notably Asylum Hill Church of Hartford and St James Episcopal Church in Great Barrington. She made fast friends wherever she went; many relationships would last a lifetime. As she often pointed out, she was a bridesmaid 13 times but only once a bride.
Valerie leaves her three children, Ann Smith and partner Tommy Sutton of Austin, Texas, Michael Smith and wife Lauren Smith of Great Barrington, Mass., and A Julie Smith and husband Tim Oakes of Lyons, Colo.; seven grandchildren, Mateer Hudgens, Brendan, Claire, Peter and Katherine Smith, and Eva and Angus Oakes; a brother, Russell LeBrun of Dallas, Texas; and a niece, Michelle LeBrun of Providence, R.I.
Funeral notice: A Memorial Service will be held at Crissey Farm in Great Barrington, MA on Sunday, December 23, 2018, at 2 p.m. Donations in Valerie’s memory may be made to Fairview Hospital (Great Barrington, Mass.) or Catholic Charities (Hartford, Conn.) through Finnerty & Stevens Funeral Home, 426 Main Street, Great Barrington MA 01230.
Obituary Provided By: Finnerty & Stevens Funeral Home