by Henry Lane Hull
Zena Smith was an extraordinarily maternal person, not only to her seven children, three dozen grandchildren and almost as many great-grandchildren, but to everyone she encountered along life’s path.
She genuinely enjoyed caring for her own and others whom she met in the course of her comings and goings. She radiated enthusiasm upon hearing any good news about her friends and only spoke well of everyone she met. In the nearly two decades that I have known her I never heard her voice any thoughts about those she knew that were not both happy and complimentary. She focused on the good in others and by speaking of what she found in them she gave encouragement for more of the same.
Zena was born in Baltimore almost nine decades ago and was raised in Washington. Last September she and her husband, Edwin, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Zena was of Italian descent, which ancestry perhaps contributed to her abiding interest in cultural matters. She enjoyed attending concerts, particularly those featuring classical music, and liked to remark about works of art that she experienced. She had a good eye for art and her comments on paintings were both direct and often humorous. She would explain her interpretation of a painting and then ask if someone else saw in it the same elements that she did.
After spending both of their working careers in Ed’s construction business in the Washington area, Zena and Ed left the hubbub of Northern Virginia and moved first to a home on the water on Dividing Creek near Kilmarnock, and later to Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury. She liked collecting items, most of which she purchased to give to her children and grandchildren, thereby giving them mementos that would become keepsakes. She would say that she needed nothing, but enjoyed buying for others, another illustration of how she found her happiness in life in making other folks happy as well.
Zena was displeased by the increasing secularism of American society along with the advancing loss of faith in younger generations. In every conversation somehow she would bring out her own faith in God, which was the bedrock of her personality. She loved life and could not understand how people could allow drugs and addictions to interfere with the pleasure that could be found in everyday life as the Almighty has given it to us. Zena astutely observed the beauty of nature on a daily basis.
She enjoyed good literature, which she thought should be uplifting and inspiring, rather than degrading and depressing, and was not hesitant in expressing her views in that area. Zena was not a wavering person. She gently and kindly spoke her mind in whatever setting she found herself, but her gentleness was by no means a sign of indecision or weakness.
Last month Zena died, two months short of reaching the age of 90. In the proverbial meaning of the term, she was both a solid and a good citizen, clearly seeing the best in those she met, and ever hopeful that the good in us all ultimately would triumph, as she confidently knew it would. Her vocation in life was to encourage and enhance whatever she encountered that was uplifting, and thereby in her own way to make the world a better place.
Zena Zangla Smith, June, 21, 1929–April 20, 2019. R.I.P.
In response to the many inquiries, all of which I greatly appreciate, concerning Lou’s health, I am delighted to report that at 25 he is once again fully himself, honking away, eating nutritious corn and quite the bon vivant. He is positively the most highly refined and cultured gander I ever have known.