NEWARK, DEL—Patricia Smith Pheris, 82, of Newark, Del., passed away peacefully on Monday, December 6, 2021, after a long illness from Atypical Parkinson’s Disease.
Patricia was born on February 24, 1939, in Kilmarnock, to the late Marvin Asbury Smith and Helen Audrey (Davis) Smith Edmonds. She attended St Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, William & Mary College of Williamsburg, and University of Delaware where she earned her bachelor’s in sociology ’78 then masters of public admin/urban affairs ’88. Pat was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority since 1959 and was active at both colleges in sorority mentoring programs and various functions.
In June 1960, she married William Everton Pheris IV (U..S Navy) with whom they had four children. They lived at various Naval Bases across the country and eventually settled in Newark, Del. After their divorce, Patricia remained in Newark with her children for the remainder of her life.
She cared for others in her 29-year career with Delaware State Department of Health and Social Services at the State Psychiatric Hospital. She had roles as a psychiatric social worker, member of State Hospital Mobile Crisis Unit and as question and answer inspector for health and social services outpatient services where she was involved in creating the state’s policies around the newly regulated federal HIPAA regulations.
She retired from the state in 2006 that allowed her to pursue a wide array of other interests. She was a strong believer in supporting the community to help others and commonly made the statement, “It takes a village.” She had a continuous thirst for learning and enjoyed courses from poetry to investments at the Academy of Lifelong Learning at the University of Delaware.
She was an avid reader, a book club member with a few different groups, participated in Together Women Rise (previously known as Dining for Women), and loved nurturing her flower and veggie gardens, visiting museums and art exhibits. Family and community were the most important part of her life, especially playing an active part in her grandkid’s lives.
Patricia had a strong spiritual faith and was a longtime member of Newark United Methodist Church (NUMC) where she volunteered for many years. She was involved with the NUMC Empowerment Center, Code Purple support network for the homeless, NUMC Outreach team to support church community and was a regular participant of the adult Sunday school group. She loved to travel with friends and family that took her on several adventures to many countries including a trip to China to welcome her youngest granddaughter to the family.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Somerford House, Seasons Hospice Team, and Age Advantage for the months of gracious care of our Patricia while she fought with such determined strength to maintain her physical and mental health as the effects of Parkinson’s disease took over. We are forever grateful.
Pat’s greatest joy was her family. In addition to her parents, Patricia was preceded in death by her daughter-in-law, Joanne.
She is survived by her four loving children, William E. Pheris V of Smyrna, Del., James R. Pheris of Bear, Del., Paige P. Meredith (Jerome) of Newark and Robert F. Pheris of Bear; three grandchildren, Sarah P. Meredith, Ryan M. Meredith, and Julianne Q. Pheris; two brothers, William R. Smith (Elizabeth) of Weems and George Henry Smith of Richmond; and two nephews; and many cousins and extended family in various areas of Virginia.
Services were held in Delaware on Thursday, December 16. The family will be taking Patricia to her final resting place in Virginia later in 2022.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Patricia’s memory to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163 (indicate a Tribute donation online or put Patricia Pheris in check memo).
To leave online condolences, visit spicermullikin.com. Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes & Crematory handled the arrangements.