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Pearl Rita Smith

February 3, 1932 - March 12, 2021

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


Service Information

Service Information

Date: Saturday, March 20, 2021

Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Altmeyer Funeral Home - Southside Chapel

5033 Rouse Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Cemetery Information


Church of the Ascension Catholic Church

4853 Princess Anne Rd
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462

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