Virginia H. Smith

Virginia H. Smith, 88, died on Aug. 17, 2018 in Oak Park. She was the last surviving child of Edward N. and Doris D. Hay, founders of the Hay Group, a personnel consulting firm, started in 1943 at their kitchen table in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and now a global firm (acquired by Korn Ferry in 2015). She enjoyed a carefree childhood, was interested in dance and athletics and was a natural performer. She attended Wheaton College and earned a B.A. in 1951. 

On a trip to Europe the summer after college, she met and soon married the love of her life, the late Paul J. Smith, and they settled in Connecticut. She became interested in teaching in the late 1960s after her youngest child entered elementary school and earned an M.A. in Education from Trinity College in 1970. She taught English and special education in the Hartford Public Schools and at private schools in the area for more than 15 years. A lifelong learner, at the age of 56 she decided to begin a third career as a librarian and earned a Master of Library Science degree from Simmons College in 1988. First as a student assistant at the Massachusetts Historical Society and eventually as a full-time research librarian in their prestigious reading room, she flourished for 12 years at the society. In August 1999, she retired to Oak Park to enjoy and encourage her three grandsons. 

Still full of energy, she continued to work part-time as a research librarian for the Newberry Library in Chicago, and, between babysitting, soccer games, and recitals, she volunteered regularly at the Animal Care League in Oak Park. She and her beloved rescue dog, Pooch, were a familiar sight on walks around town. 

Virginia Smith is survived by her children, Jeffrey Smith, Jennifer Smith (Noel Tetrev), and Polly Smith (John Boyle); and her grandsons, Jack and Simon Boyle and Gabe Tetrev. She was “Pip” to her pals in school, “Ginny” at faculty parties, and “Mrs. Smith” to her students and research colleagues — but she was Grammy most of all. 

The family plans a memorial to be held at a later date. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions in her honor may be made to the Animal Care League, 1011 Garfield St., Oak Park 60304.

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