WESTFIELD — The congregation of Westfield Friends Meeting donned an assortment of colorful headwear Sunday morning as a way of paying tribute to one of their own, Elizabeth Smith, on her 95th birthday.
The special day had been designated as the church’s second annual “Hat Day,” in recognition of Smith. Last year’s initial event came about after a suggestion by Pastor Linda Anderson during a business meeting. Noting Smith’s affinity for hats, Anderson recalled that Smith had previously mentioned how nice it would be to have a day when all who were willing would wear a hat. Anderson suggested that Hat Day be held on the Sunday nearest Smith’s February 6th birthday.
“She often wears a hat to church,” explained Danne Smith, one of Smith’s two daughters. “This was something to honor her. We had a wide variety of hats on hand, from vintage to a couple of ‘Carolina Panthers’ hats.’ We probably had more participation than last year.”
“Momma enjoyed seeing all the hats come in,” added Smith’s other daughter, Denise Rector. “And the members enjoyed taking part.”
In addition to her daughters, Smith was joined by Denise Rector’s husband, Brent, the couple’s adult children, Brandon Rector and Elise Scott and Elise’s husband Vinee along with their young children, Jayla and Coley.
The family had gathered to celebrate Smith’s birthday on Saturday at her favorite restaurant, Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards, enjoying a meal around her favorite table, located near a rustic fireplace.
Family members donned their own hats to take part in Sunday’s service. And Brandon Rector accepted an opportunity to share memories of his grandmother, ranging from her cooking to family vacations to her rock collection.
“Yes,” he concluded, “we have a lot of great memories of good times with grandma. But much more importantly, grandma has been supportive, always encouraging us to do the best we can. Mom and Danne recall that she used to quote to them from the children’s book about the train, ‘I think I can, I think I can.’ She also reminds us, even now, to pray about it – whatever it is. Grandma is always proud and makes sure you know it. As Elise puts it, she remembers all of your accomplishments and forgets all of your mistakes. She loves you with all her heart, remembers the child you were and cherishes the person you have become. Thank you for honoring her today. Her Christian faith and this church mean so much to her.”
According to a history shared by Pastor Anderson, Mary Elizabeth Smith was born on a farm about three miles from the Westfield Friends meetinghouse. She was the third of five children born to Coley and Flora Lynch Johnson.
She married Woodrow Smith in November of 1938 and they enjoyed 65 years of marriage and family life.
She grew up in the church and, still attending faithfully, is now recognized as its oldest active member.
She is a charter member of the meeting’s United Society of Friends Women group, formed in 1949, and today still serves as its president. Across the years, she has held numerous other offices and responsibilities with many of them involving a long time passion, working with the children of the church.
“This church has shared in her faith and dedication,” Denise Rector said of her mother. “And that has been an important part of the work of the church. The church embraces this day and her. It’s a church family. They appreciate everything momma has brought and continues to bring to the church with her faith.”
“It’s been a treasured weekend and we feel so very blessed to be together with my mother to celebrate her 95th birthday.”
Dean Palmer may be reached at 336-351-4131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.