The Rosebud Smiddy Garden, located between the library and the Chapel of All Faiths, was first created in the late 1980s by members of the American Association of University Women in honor of Rosebud Stickley Smiddy. The McGlothlin Foundation provided funding.
A vigorous construction phase at the College temporarily disrupted the garden for several years. Completion of the College’s six-story library made it possible for the garden to once again thrive.
Brenda Edwards, an AAUW member and friend of the late educator, recalled how Mrs. Smiddy helped her make Wise home when she moved to the area in the late 1960s.
“As I got to know this special lady and saw how contented and happy she was living such a full and rich life in this little town of Wise, I knew I could do it also,” Edwards said. “She entertained with the grace and charm of a first lady. She was kind to everyone and was beautiful inside and outside.”
On behalf of the AAUW, Edwards encouraged the public to use the garden that is now a tribute to Mrs. Smiddy’s amazing life.
“Hopefully, those who spend time here will feel the peace and joy that her spirit brings to this garden and know that this is a special place on this campus,” Edwards added.
Mrs. Smiddy, a devoted teacher who began her career before World War II in a two-room schoolhouse in Lee County’s Rose Hill, passed away in 1984.
“I did not have the pleasure or the honor of knowing Mrs. Smiddy, but I know she is remembered fondly, and that is an understatement,” said Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and teacher.”
Henry noted that Mrs. Smiddy is remembered for her elegance, class and grace.
“This garden, placed strategically at the center of our campus, near this magnificent new library, which itself represents hope and light, demonstrates the great legacy of Mrs. Smiddy,” Henry said. “She worked tirelessly to advance the education and welfare of everyone.”
Marcia Adams Gilliam, chair of the UVa-Wise College Board and a member of the Class of 1982, said Mrs. Smiddy was her second grade teacher at Norton Elementary.
“There is nothing more revered at our great College than excellence in teaching,” Gilliam said. “Our students deserve nothing short of dedicated and capable teachers, and when they come to UVa-Wise, that’s precisely what they get.”
Gilliam said Mrs. Smiddy valued education and taught her pupils to love school.
“She shared this sentiment with Chancellor Smiddy and with the faculty at UVa-Wise,” Gilliam said. “All of them teachers, they shared a love for the noble task of teaching, of equipping students with the knowledge and skills to lead a meaningful life.”
Speaking on behalf of the Smiddy family, Dr. Joe Frank Smiddy recalled how his mother had special eyes that enabled her to see what many others could not see.
“She would see hunger and she would see needs,” Smiddy said, adding that she worked hard to meet the needs of the children she taught. “Papa was finding them a way to go to college. Mother was finding them what they needed.”
“She had a beautiful voice to read to children,” Smiddy said. “She could make those pages come alive.”
Smiddy asked the crowd to remember that his mother would want them to find their own way around life, plant their own flowers, and read to a child.
The Rosebud Smiddy Garden is open to the public.