By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
The Tucker County Chamber of Commerce Banquet was a night of celebration. However, the night truly belonged to the Smith family.
Mary Jane Smith accepted the Special Award in Heritage and Arts for her work as the founder of the Camp Horseshoe Quilt Retreat, but the surprise honor went posthumously to her late husband Wayne Smith when he was named the 2023 Tuckineer. Roxanne Tuesing sponsored and presented the award.
“Mary’s biography is a lifetime of dedication and accomplishment,” Tuesing said. “Faith, family, community, church, and always helping are all part of Mary’s biography. A special chapter in Mary’s biography is the Quilt Retreat at Camp Horseshoe. Working at Horseshoe, Mary saw the life changing experiences kids and teens had at finding new friends, being kind, helping each other, learning, building new skills, creating community, having fun and returning home renewed and ready to do good in their families and schools and communities. Mary imagined the same could happen for older generations. A lot of adults step away from everyday life into Horseshoe’s peaceful atmosphere with people lifting everyone up to become their best.”
The presenter said Mary’s solution was to found the Quilt Camp. “It’s one thing to have an idea, a vision of what could be, turning an idea into reality is something entirely different,” the presenter said. “It takes work, planning, organizing, recruiting quilters plus those who want to learn how to quilt, funding quilt camp – we all know nothing is without cost – and then conduct the retreat. Mary did it well. She put in the work, the imagination, the heart. The first Horseshoe Quilt Retreat, in 2002, had eight campers. The enthusiasm of those first quilt campers led to another quilt retreat that grew into fall and spring Quilt Retreats. This week is the Spring 2023 Quilt Retreat.”
Smith said, “I leave with you this paragraph that is read at each retreat – most of the quilters probably have it memorized – ‘Five days, we will eat, sleep, talk, and breathe quilting with the devotion and reverence of nuns, but without the vow of silence. Above all we have come to talk and to laugh. Each of us have carved out this sacred time from our lives filled with home and family, career, chores and the selfless caring of others. This is a private time for ourselves. This is a communal time away from everything, a mental health time, a spiritual refreshment time. Time to return to our creative roots. This time is ours to enjoy for the week. For each of you, I pray you have a happy place to feed your soul, renew your spirit and thank God and know that God has placed you here for a reason also.”
The announcement of the 2023 Tuckineer cemented the Smiths as the guests of highest honor at the event. Several of the attendees were brought to tears by the announcement and even the presenter became choked up when he saw the Smith family’s reaction.
“I saw the reaction, I’m sorry,” the presenter from Citizens Bank of West Virginia said as he paused during his speech. “Citizens Bank of West Virginia is proud and excited to honor your husband with the 2023 Tuckineer Award, posthumously, as a devoted member of the community who embodied the spirit of Tucker County, Mr. Wayne Smith, who unfortunately passed away Christmas Day last year.”
The award was accepted by Mary Jane Smith and the Smiths’ two sons, Chad and Jason. The Tuckineer Award was sponsored and presented by Citizens Bank of West Virginia.