Eunice Clark Smith

Eunice Clark Smith, 89 years old, died on January 16, 2002, at Havenwood Retirement Community in Concord, New Hampshire.  She had been a member of the Religious Society of Friends for over fifty years.

Born October 29, 1912, Eunice grew up in Madison, Wisconsin.  She gradu­ated from Radcliffe College in 1934 with a desire to continue her studies in his­tory, but was told, “Men teach history; women teach French.”  So she began teaching at a school in Wisconsin.  She also continued her studies and over the next ten years earned an M.A. and a PhD. in French literature, always maintain­ing her avid interest in history.

During World War II, Eunice had a strong desire to “do something to mend things.”  Not being drawn to military service, she found a job as a graduate assis­tant at Bryn Mawr College outside Philadelphia so that she could volunteer at the French Desk of the American Friends Service Committee.  In March 1946, she was sent to Paris, where she put her French language skills to work full-time for AFSC’s post-war relief efforts.

While in France, Eunice was impressed with how Friends handled situations and problems, and decided that when she returned to the States she would join the Society of Friends.  She accepted a teaching job in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it was there that she joined her first Friends meeting in 1949.

In 1952, Eunice took a teaching job at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and her membership was transferred to Quaker Springs Meeting.  There she met her beloved husband, Chard Powers Smith, a writer and poet.  They were married under the care of Quaker Springs Meeting in 1957.  Eunice was affectionately known as “Tuni” to her family.  Through her marriage to Char, she gained a stepdaughter and stepson.  Her family grew to include five grand­children, six great-grandchildren, four nephews, and a niece.

In 1958, Eunice left Skidmore to teach at State University of New York (SUNY)—Albany.  She became a member of Bennington (Vermont) Meeting, which she considered the most important meeting in her life.  She was an active member there for more than 20 years.

Eunice played cello and loved getting together with friends for chamber music sessions.  She also enjoyed gardening, field botany, birding, swimming, poetry, and the literature of French-speaking Africans.  She was co-author of a textbook on French literature that is still in use.

In order to take better care of her aging husband, Eunice left her position at SUNY-Albany and in 1966 took a position, with a lighter workload, at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

In 1977 her husband Char died.  The following year Eunice retired.  She moved to the new Friends retirement community in North Easton, Massachusetts.  She was clerk of the North Easton Meeting for its first three years, following which she became recording clerk.  Eunice also served the Yearly Meeting, on the Archives Committee, the Correspondence Committee, Permanent Board, and as a representative to the Massachusetts Council of Churches.

However, Eunice was not happy with life in North Easton.  In May 1989, she decided to move to Havenwood Retirement Community in Concord, New Hampshire.  Although Havenwood was not a Friends’ community, she was attracted by what she called a “vibrant” Friends Meeting in Concord.

During the last 12 years of her life, Eunice was active in both the Havenwood community and Concord Friends Meeting.  At Havenwood, she was a member of the Resident Council and taught French to residents.  She also became a caring friend to many residents and staff.

At Concord Meeting, Eunice was at various times a member of the Library Committee, Outreach Committee, and Ministry and Counsel.  As age began to diminish her energy and abilities, her inner light shone more brightly.  Her vul­nerability and frustrations enlightened our understanding of growing older.  Yet she always seemed to remain active.  She was our overseer of the little things easy to forget.  It was Eunice who would always see that the guest book was there for newcomers to sign.  It was Eunice who clipped newspaper articles and edited our bulletin board.  It was Eunice who would remind our soft-spoken Friends to speak up.  And it was Eunice who exchanged little beauties of nature with Meeting children.  She was an important friend to all.

Eunice was a persistently gentle presence, a pure example of dignity and spir­itual grace.  By simply being herself, she taught us all what it meant to be good Quakers, good friends, and caring people.  We shall miss Eunice Clark Smith deeply.  We will carry her in our hearts forever.

—Concord Monthly Meeting, Dover Quarterly Meeting