Meta Chadwick Smith, better known as our “Mimi,” passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family on Tuesday, August 11. She was 98 years young, just shy of her 99th birthday, and has lived in her home on Coudersport Pike for 66 years. She was born on October 21, 1921 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to the late George and Charlotte Beetem Chadwick. She was preceded in death by her adoring husband, James T. Smith, in January 1979. In addition to her husband and parents, Meta was pre-deceased by her three older sisters - Charlotte Litchauer of Lakewood, NJ, Marian Meals of Camp Hill, PA, and Anne Hurst of Carlisle, PA.
Surviving through the challenges presented by the Great Depression, alongside their parents, the Chadwick sisters remained very close throughout the remainder of their lives. Meta was raised in Carlisle, PA where she graduated from Carlisle High School in 1939. She often told us stories of growing up in Carlisle, where the Beetem-Chadwick family owned and operated a ribbon factory downtown called the R.N. Beetem Co. Silk Mill. The family factory manufactured silk taffeta ribbon, groundbreaking in 1913 until it went bankrupt during the depression. Meta saved spools of ribbon from her family’s factory as a reminder of the hardships of this era.
After high school, she attended Dickinson College, where she earned her degree with a double major in French and Latin, and graduated with honors in 1942. While studying between classes, she met the love of her life, James T. Smith, while he was attending Dickinson Law School.
Together, Meta and James proudly committed to serving our great nation during World War II after they both completed their studies at Dickinson. Meta worked as a Red Cross Nurse Assistant for the U.S. Army War College Carlisle Barracks, tenderly caring for ill and injured military servicemen and women who heroically served our country. James was a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy on a USS LST vessel in foreign waters. Though they were separated by long distances, they kept in touch through hand-written letters. The two reunited after the war had ended, were married in 1948, and relocated to Lock Haven, James’ hometown, where he would start a law practice, which soon became the Law Offices of James T. Smith. Meta served as the accountant for her husband’s law office until his death in 1979. Lock Haven was where she remained and flourished.
Flourished, indeed. Meta and James, a Penn State alumni, were the founders of the Clinton County chapter of the Penn State Nittany Lion Tailgating Bus. She was an extremely enthusiastic Penn State Football fan and thoroughly enjoyed tailgating with family and friends. Meta maintained a perfect attendance at home football games in Beaver Stadium for 52 straight seasons. She continued to cheer on her beloved Lions during home games through her late 80s and passed on her love of football to her children and grandchildren. In addition to Penn State University, Meta and James were avid Lock Haven University wrestling supporters and established a scholarship for deserving wrestling students. Her husband, James, was later inducted into the LHU Wrestling Hall of Fame for his unending support of the LHU wrestling program.
In addition to sports, Meta had a robust passion for the performing arts. She dedicated 27 years volunteering on the Millbrook Playhouse Board of Directors, where she served on various committees. She hosted many of the “Millbrook Players” over the years in her home, spent countless hours selling tickets for the shows, preparing meals for the staff, organizing fundraisers, and donating every spare article of clothing, furniture, or household items she thought could be used as a prop for the theater. Meta adored Millbrook Playhouse and continued to enjoy their theatrical performances through the 2019 season.
Meta loved to travel, and she would take her family on bus trips to New York City several times a year to watch Broadway shows or see the Macy’s Day parade. Travel was not limited to just New York City, as she spent many summers with her family at the beach in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. She also loved treating her grandchildren to many adventures both within the United States and around the world. One of her favorite trips was to France, Italy, and England to spend time visiting her granddaughter who was studying abroad.
Meta was the natural historian of her family and proud lifetime member of the Clinton County Historical Society and lifetime member of The Daughters of the American Revolution, where she traced her ancestors back to before the Revolutionary War. Meta was most proud of her heroine ancestor from the American Revolutionary War, Sybil Ludington – known as the female Paul Revere. On April 26, 1777, at age 16, Sybil made an all-night horseback ride to alert militia forces in the towns of Putnam County, NY, that nearby Danbury, CT, was under attack by British forces and urged soldiers to join their defense. To show gratitude for her valiant efforts, George and Martha Washington invited Sybil and her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, to their home estate in Mount Vernon for a dinner in her honor.
Meta was a life member of The Friends of The Ross Library and served on their board for many years. She was also a devout member of the Immaculate Conception Church and sat in the same pew every Sunday, supporting her parish in any way needed. She was appointed to the Board of Directors of Fidelity National Bank, was a member of Dickinson and Penn State Alumnae Associations, the Cumberland Historical Society, and a past member of the Elks Club, the Moose Club, and the Clinton County Country Club.
Meta was skilled with a deck of cards, especially when playing bridge. She, and many dear friends, played ladies Bridge Club at the Clinton County Country Club every Thursday morning for over 20 years. She would give bridge lessons to anyone who had the patience to learn and continued to play through her 90s.
Meta’s greatest joy was her family. She was the loving mother to three surviving children; Stephen (Paula) Smith, Beatrice “Bebe” (Richard) Fultz, and Gregory Smith, all of Lock Haven. She will be sorely missed by her grandchildren Annie (Greg) Dutton of Louisville, KY, Jamie Fultz of Hickory, NC, and Demian Smith of Lock Haven, and her great grandson Teddy Dutton of Louisville, KY. She is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida whom all cherished their summer visits to Meta’s pool house, where all were welcomed and greeted with warm hugs and her contagious laugh.
Mimi was the matriarch of her adoring family, and always our biggest fan on or off the sidelines. She endlessly encouraged the endeavors and achievements of her children and grandchildren. You could always find her up in the stands watching every soccer match, gymnastics event, theater performance, dance recital, and swim meet. Mimi was an avid reader and an incredible cook. Her BBQ ribs and chicken casseroles were family favorites on Sunday night family dinners. She had an incredible memory, a gift for telling stories, and a witty sense of humor.
Our family is forever grateful to her home caretakers who provided loving care, allowing Mimi to stay in her own home. She was a gracious, humble, and truly magnificent woman who touched the lives of so many. She lived her beautiful life to the fullest and left an uplifting impression of love and kindness on us all.
Requiescat In Peace, our dear Mimi.
A Funeral Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, August 17, 2020, at 11:00 at the Immaculate Conception Church, 310 West Water Street in Lock Haven, with the Rev. Father Joseph Orr officiating. Interment will follow at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery.
Due to current concerns and restrictions from Covid-19, the family is planning a celebration of life for Meta at a later date.
To honor Mimi’s philanthropic nature, please make memorial contributions through the funeral home to the Lock Haven Catholic School building fund, Millbrook Playhouse, the Ross Library, or the Meta Smith Wrestling Scholarship at Lock Haven University.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Donald G. Walker Funeral Home, Inc., 231 High Street, Flemington, PA 17745.
Online condolences and memories may be sent by visiting www.donaldwalkerfuneralhome.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Meta C. (Chadwick) Smith, please visit our floral store.