Pearl Rita Smith (nee Hudson), moved from this world to the next dimension to bring her humor and spark to another population that will become her adoring fans.
Pearl quietly slipped away on March 12, 2021 at Sentara Leigh Hospital (the only time she ever did anything quietly). Pearl was born in New York City on February 3, 1932, the daughter of the late William and Pearl (Tischer) Hudson. She was predeceased by her former husband, Kenneth G. Smith, and her brother, William (Bill). Pearl’s father was a native Virginian, so Pearl always claimed herself a proud Yankee from NYC, who embraced her Southern roots.
The many accomplishments and honors bestowed upon Pearl began when she was elected national President of the Navy Wives Clubs of America in 1966. Her role as a spokesperson for the wives of military members was her first public declaration of her commitment to women. The welfare and promotion in the workplace of all women became her life work. Pearl’s dedication to women’s issues continued through her founding of the Women’s Network of Hampton Roads, the Women’s Quarterly, and more recently her voice as founder of The Roundtable, a group of area women with a passion for politics and a commitment to involvement in Democratic campaigns.
Pearl began her love affair with politics when she was asked to direct the 1968 congressional campaign headquarters for G.William Whitehurst, after which she was appointed the Director of the 1970 Census for the Hampton Roads area. Pearl was Director of Public Relations, Special Events and Fashion for the seven Rices Nachman Department Stores for fifteen years. She became ‘born again; and again, and again” after becoming CBN’s first Manager of Public Affairs/Community Relations. Pearl switched her political affiliation to Democrat and became a vociferous advocate for electing Democratic candidates to office in Virginia and in national elections for the rest of her life.
Through her many years in Hampton Roads, she served on numerous charitable, service and civic boards, and was cited for her contributions when she was named Business Community of Hampton Roads Woman of the Year in 2003, Woman of Courage, Confidence and Character, from the Girls Scout Council of Colonial Coast in 2010, and a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International in 2009. Pearl was honored as the Virginia Beach First Citizen in 2010, which recognized her unique and important contributions to the community.
Pearl counted the development and success of the Town Center in the Central Business District Association as her crowning business achievement. She was the voice and strength of the CBDA through the twenty three years that she served as its Executive Director. Pearl left the CBDA to become the Director of Women’s Programs for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce in 2011. There, she continued bringing notable national celebrities to speak to the professional women and men of the Hampton Roads area, continuing this work until her death.
Pearl was the proud mother of her four sons, Kenneth “KG” (Theresa) of Sanford, NC, Kelly of Norfolk, Kevin (Evaleene), and Keith (Susan) of Virginia Beach, along with her eight grandchildren: Kevin Jr., Kyle, Aaron, Justin, Ariane, Morgan, Joshua, and Matthew, and four great grandchildren, Ava, Kensley, Mason, and Liana, all of whom she loved deeply. She is also survived by her brother, Robert Hudson and his wife June of Orangeburg, NY, as well as many nieces and nephews, including her special niece, Junie. Pearl will be sorely missed by her family and her many friends who loved her dearly. She will be the voice in their heads telling them to make a contribution to a Democratic candidate running for office.
A celebration of Pearl’s life will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at Altmeyer Funeral Home-Southside Chapel (5033 Rouse Dr. Virginia Beach, VA) at 11AM. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers or other expressions of sympathy, contributions to the Samaritan House (2620 Southern Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23452) are appreciated. The Altmeyer Funeral Home-Southside Chapel is assisting with arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed by visiting www.altmeyerfh.com.
Date: Saturday, March 20, 2021
Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
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