Williamsburg’s Candy Smith was a champion of the Grange who ‘welcomed people in’


  • Candy Smith, who led the Williamsburg Grange and was known for welcoming people to town, died last month at 74. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Candy Smith is seen at left with her friend Joan D’Arienzo. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Candy Smith is pictured with her late husband Carl Smith. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/21/2021 9:49:51 AM

WILLIAMSBURG — Candy Smith, who led the Williamsburg Grange for decades and was known for welcoming people into the community, will be honored in a memorial service in August.

Smith died on June 28 at the age of 74. Born Candace Black, she came from a family that has been in town since its settlement in the 1700s.

“She just loved to get to know people,” said her daughter Shannon Wade. “Most of her time she spent volunteering.”

Smith was married to the late Carl Smith and together they had three children: daughter Shannon Wade and sons Shad Smith and Shane Smith.

“Next to her family, her community was the next most important thing,” Shad Smith said.

Wade said that since her mother’s passing, she has had people tell her how her mother welcomed them into Williamsburg and was often the first person to do so.

“I’ve just heard that sentiment over and over again,” Wade said.

One of the people that Smith made feel welcome was Zevey Steinitz, who moved to Williamsburg shortly after 9/11.

Steinitz said that Smith would bridge the gap between newcomers and people from older families in Williamsburg, making people feel welcome and sharing the history of the town.

“She welcomed people in,” Steinitz said.

Another of those people was Becky Houlihan, who lives on the same road as Smith did.

“She was a great person,” Houlihan said. “She was very funny.”

Houlihan also said that Smith and her husband were the “best neighbors you could want.”

She described how they would buy eggs from her children, and how Carl would help them when their car was stuck. Houlihan and her family were also involved in the Grange with the Smiths, and she said that Smith would take her daughters to Junior Grange meetings.

“She really touched so many people,” Houlihan said.

Smith was a devoted member of the Grange, and she celebrated 60 years of membership in it this year. Wade said her mother was very involved with the local, regional and state levels of the Grange.

“She’s been the thing that’s been keeping the Grange going” at the local level, Wade said.

At the time of her death, Smith was president of the Williamsburg Grange and treasurer of the Pomona (regional) Grange. The Williamsburg Grange will be honoring her at its next meeting on Aug. 7 by ceremonially draping its charter.

Wade also noted her mother’s witty and sarcastic sense of humor.

“Sometimes she could be a little sharp,” Wade said, adding that she always did so with humor.

Steinitz also referenced Smith’s humor, noting that she was one of the coordinators of The Ding Dong Show, a fundraiser for Heifer International through the First Congregational Church of Williamsburg. Steinitz said that after the kids did their skits, Smith would take the stage herself.

“In the end, she and her buddies would dress up in crazy costumes and do a church ladies skit,” Steinitz said.

Smith’s memorial will take place on Aug. 7 at 1 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Williamsburg. Smith was an active and longtime member of the church.

“She grew up in the church,” said Linda West, a friend and fellow church member. “She would do anything for the church.”

West shared that Smith was the church’s secretary and a board member for a number of years and was the church’s representative to the local UCC church association. She also said that her friend was kind and giving and that she crocheted 50 hats for a homeless shelter in New York City. “They were beautiful,” she said.

West wasn’t the only person to mention Smith’s crocheting prowess, with Wade sharing that her mother made baby hats that Wade would give to her doula clients.

Shane Smith noted his mother’s volunteerism, and how she made time for other people.

“She was always quite important to a lot of people,” he said.

He also noted how he watched her grow as a person as she got older, and how she became more accepting of others as she did so.

Daria D’Arienzo is a friend of Smith’s, who knew her through the Grange, church and the historical society. She shared how her mother, Joan D’Arienzo, came to live with her in her 90s, and how Smith and her mother became friends until her mother died in 2020.

“My mother thought of her as another member of the family,” she said. “Another daughter.”

In addition to her other roles, Smith also was involved with the Williamsburg Historical Society and was its treasurer. Her nephew, Collin Black, served with Smith in both the society and the Grange, and he also noted her involvement with the church and the Council on Aging.

“We’re going to need like five people to replace her,” he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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