Ms. Irene B. Smith, a resident of Southbury, died Thursday November 26, 2020, at the VITAS Innovation Hospice Care Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital after a brief illness. She was born on December 10, 1927 in Waterbury, daughter of the late Joseph and Sarah (Chatfield) Balfe. She was the widow of the late Joseph Romaine Smith who she married on July 15, 1952 and who passed away in March 1986.
Her love of education and learning is evident throughout her life .Irene graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Central CT State University in 1949. She immediately began her career as an educator with the City of Waterbury from 1949 through 1954. She obtained her M.S. degree and teaching certificate (K-8) from Southern CT State University in 1954, and she was employed as a reading consultant with the Town of Cheshire from 1954 through 1984. Her mission for educating continued through her work as an instructor at the University of Rhode Island (Kingston) from 1986 through 1992 and as an interpreter/guide for the Mystic Seaport Museum from 1992 through 2007. Her dedication to the field of education was apparent through her work and membership in the New England Reading Conference and CT Reading Association, her co-authoring of multiple teacher and student handbooks, as well as her role as research chairperson for the Delta Kappa Gamma Society.
She is survived by her dearest friend and loving sister, Anne Balfe; her nephews Timothy Reilly and Joseph Reilly of Waterbury; her niece Kathy Prieto and her husband Scott of Newtown; and her niece Mary Rodrigues and her husband Paul of Wolcott. She was predeceased by her sister Jane Reilly and her husband Eugene.
Irene was always knowledgeable about current events, scientific innovations and political happenings. She was an avid fan of the UConn Huskies and could discuss team players and statistics with ease. She enjoyed the beach and lived part-time in Rhode Island for much of her life. She was extremely fond of dogs and enjoyed walking the many Airedales that she had rescued throughout the years. Her many past times included golfing, leisure reading, travel and maintaining the meticulous gardens that surrounded her home.
Irene’s optimism and hope in the future is best remembered by her often used quote “This too shall pass,” and her inspirational spirit will be sorely missed. Due to the current pandemic, a memorial mass will be held at a later date.
Contributions may be made in Irene’s memory to the Airedale Rescue 3 Carter Rd. Cornwall Bridge, CT 06754.
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