Rebecca Ann Marie Smith, 63, passed away after a long illness at her home in Middletown on Nov. 21, 2017, attended by her close family and friends.
Rebecca, known to many as Becca, was born in San Francisco on Aug. 8, 1954, to Slater and Jane Smith of Napa. Their family of five children was founded in San Francisco and subsequently relocated to Napa, where Rebecca was educated in local schools.
Rebecca was employed locally throughout her life in several occupations, including managerial roles in the early days of the Palisades Market in Calistoga and the Oakville Grocery. Following these jobs, she served for 23 years at Oberon Design, a Sonoma County craft company specializing in leather goods and jewelry. There, she worked in marketing and administration, rising to the position of vice president, and became adept at choosing and creating graphic designs that distinguish the Oberon brand. Her work designing catalogs, products, and websites was the locus of the company’s marketing growth. At the same time, her innovative leadership and management of staff relationships were integral parts of the team character and productivity there.
Rebecca was talented artistically and pursued for three decades a career in collage art, with many shows to her credit. After surviving breast cancer in 1996, she authored “The Art of Surrender,” a book in which she developed a healing approach based on Jungian dreamwork.
Art for her was a meditative practice, an immersion through imagery into the world of the collective unconscious, the inscrutable, omniscient intelligence of life, with its properties of mystery beyond verbal description. With vast hours spent in the “well” of her studio, she brought forth her creations with studied, intuitive expression.
As a performer, she was for 15 years involved with the community at the White Barn in St. Helena. There, she was a principal in theater pieces, sang, conducted poetry readings, and served on the Barn’s board of directors. This was an outgrowth of her lifelong interests in literature, poetry, popular culture, and the early history of human civilizations.
As part of her acting roles, she had read widely and was a minor authority on the works of Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and many others.
For 26 years, she corresponded with the popular American novelist and poet Jim Harrison, sharing humorous exchanges on the demise of society and avant-garde recipes.
With an affection for Hispanic culture and cuisine, she traveled many times to Mexico in order to visit craft communes and artists for inspiration and to find original works to bring home. The Virgin of Guadalupe was a prominent deity in her own artwork and personal life.
The natural world was a continuous source of spiritual wealth for Rebecca, and she pursued hiking, camping, backpacking, plant appreciation, photography, and bird watching to better experience the outdoors. Dogs were always in her company, and she nurtured many of them into comfortable old age.
Gardening was always a given for her in the yearly cycles. After the Valley Fire burned the entire garden and landscape compound around her house, Rebecca set out on a complete and improved restoration of the premises and with community support brought about the completion of a beautiful new garden.
The life of family and friends was a central feature in her values, and over the span of her life there was always a deep care and a willingness to contribute. While always aware through her own suffering of life’s impermanence and uncertainties, she extended a familial bond and association, watchful concern, nonjudgmental appreciation, material support, intellectual resources, photographic sharing, and a loving smile to all who knew her in this way.
Order, planning, discipline, determination, imagination, discrimination, loyalty, gentleness, celebration, literacy, adventure, devotion, fairness, thrift, honesty, courage, and hope informed her life. Most of all, it was love, affection, laughter, and a sense of beauty. These qualities and more were reflected in the daily affairs of Rebecca Ann and bring admiration and pride to her circle of family, friends, and neighbors, who now summon the strength to be without her in their lives.
She is survived by her brothers Justin, Brendan, and Gavin Smith and her sister, Maggy Kongsgaard; cousins Steve, Mark, Alan and Sheli of the Julian Smith family; niece and nephew Helen and Alex (children of John and Maggy Kongsgaard); nephews Julian and Dwyer Smith (sons of Gavin Smith); the Mervin Lernharts; Philip Anglim of Venice, Calif.; and many devoted friends.
A memorial service will be held at the Native Sons Hall in St. Helena, 1954 Spring St., on Feb. 24, 2018, at 2 p.m.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to either of the following organizations:
Seed Savers Exchange, 3094 North Winn Rd, Decorah, Iowa 52101. www.seedsavers.org
The Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104. www.splcenter.org/about