Joan Barbara (nee Reilly) Smith, of Springfield, IL, passed away at 9:57 am, Saturday, January 4, 2014 at St. John’s Hospital, from complications due to surgery.
Joan was born on August 27, 1930 in Springfield, IL, the only child of Walter R. (“Rocks”) Reilly and Edith M. Johnson Reilly. Her father was a Trainmaster for CI&M Railroad and a veteran of WWI. Joan attended McClernand Grade School and graduated from Ursuline Academy in 1948. On December 27, 1952, she married Irvin F. “Irv” Smith at St. Joseph’s Church in Springfield, and they enjoyed 61 happy years of marriage and had three children, April, Sharmin and Chip.
She was the perfect partner for her gregarious husband. Never one to crave the limelight, she agreed to participate in his numerous campaigns for elected office with the understanding that she would never have to give a speech or run for elected office. Politics didn’t stop with her husband, as all of her children became active in their communities and two ran for public office. Joan was their backbone, always there with encouragement and great advice.
For 22 years, she was the wife of the Sangamon County Republican Chairman, requiring her to attend countless campaigns for office, fundraisers, luncheons, parties, chicken dinners, precinct canvassing, club meetings, and endured both positive and negative publicity. When asked how many Lincoln Day Luncheons she attended, she laughed and said, “It feels like all 109 of them”! Wondering if things would ever settle down at home – she became familiar with the statement, “I’ll quit after the next election,” which she knew was not true.
Joan met many important people throughout her political journey including Presidents, Governors, Congressmen and women, and Supreme Court Justices.
She was proud of the fact that politics is no longer “a man’s world”. This past November, the Sangamon County Republican Women presented Joan with the Marilee I. Lindley “Woman of the Year” Award, which honors and recognizes the accomplishments of Republican women who have given unselfishly of their time and talents to ensure strong leadership in our city, state, and nation.
From 1971-1995, Joan and Irv owned and operated the Springfield Olympic Club and North Suburban Aquatic Club in Springfield, IL. Joan attended and worked countless YMCA handball games, girls and boys swimming meets, tennis matches, cycling events, triathlons, and other sporting events for her husband and children, and supported the team members and families, many who were active in politics as well. Joan personally loved tennis, playing at the Springfield Racquet Club, attending the US OPEN, and watching Chris Evert practice at Holiday Park in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Music and art brought Joan much joy. A talented vocalist and pianist, she sang at many local events, weddings and funerals. For years she was active in the Springfield Art Association, giving hours of her time to promote the arts in our community. She loved quilting, sewing, painting and playing bridge with her friends. Joan was a YWCA board member, volunteer at Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, member of St. Joseph’s Coterie, President of Christ the King Church’s Alter and Rosary Society and attended St. Agnes Catholic Church. She was a member of Island Bay Yacht Club and enjoyed boating and dinners at the lake with her family and friends. She and Irv traveled extensively throughout the world and relaxed at their home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Joan leaves behind her husband: Irvin F. Smith. Daughters: April Elaine Smith (Douglas Wilson), and Sharmin Smith Doering (Gary). One son: Irvin F. “Chip” Smith, Jr. Grandchildren: Charles Irvin “Chas” Smith, and Ava Marie Smith of Springfield. Oldest and dearest friend Marilyn Homa Toomey of LaGrange, KY, brother-in-law, John Mark Smith, niece and nephew Kathryn (Tony) Spain, and Mark A. (Kathy) Smith. Cousins: Gaye (Ron) Brian, Cathy (John) Beaver and Michalene “Mickey” McAtee (“Buzz” Buzzard).
She was preceded in death by her parents: Walter and Edith Reilly. In-laws: Frank I. Smith and Emelia Marker Smith. Aunts: Irene Johnson McAtee and Margaret N. Johnson. Cousins: Russell McAtee and Imogene Hall. Sisters-in-law: Florence Smith and Clara Bennett.
Visitation: 2-6 pm, Friday, January 10, 2014 at Staab Funeral Home.
Lie-In-State: 9-10 am, Saturday, January 11, 2014 at Christ The King Church.
Funeral Mass: 10 am, Saturday, January 11, 2014 at Christ the King Church with Reverend Joseph Ring and Monsignor John Ossola officiating. Burial will follow at Old Salem Cemetery, Old Salem Road, Springfield, IL.
Memorials may be made to Adonai’s Animals: Rescuing Senior Dogs from Shelters, c/o Carol Rodgers, 2344 S. 6th Street, Springfield IL 62703, www.adonais-animals-rescue.org, in honor of her granddog, Scout, and other older orphaned animals in need of a good home, or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Finding Cures, Saving Children, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; www.stjude.org; 1-800-805-5856.