The people of Cecil County lost a true treasure last week, Miss Ada Rebecca Smith, known to many as “Miss Becky”, passed away at the age of 105. She would have celebrated her 106th birthday on Monday, December 21.
The much respected and loved educator and guidance counselor was born on December 21, 1914 in a blizzard and ice storm. Miss Smith was a lifelong member of Zion United Methodist Church. She lived in Cecilton her whole life, except while attending Western Maryland College. After graduating from George Biddle High School in 1931, she graduated from college at the age of 20. Miss Smith was hired to teach at Perryville High School in 1935. In the 10 years she taught there, she was a social studies teacher and a volleyball coach. In 1943, Miss Smith transferred to Elkton High School, where she taught U.S. History. In 1966, she became one of the first guidance counselors in the county. She remained a guidance counselor until her retirement in 1976, having taught and counseled multiple generations of the many families. In 1978, she was elected the first female Judge of the Orphan’s Court and remained a judge for 24 years, serving four 6-year terms.
In the 1980s, Miss Smith began volunteering for the Historical Society of Cecil County. Her love of history made her an invaluable volunteer. Miss Smith’s contributions to the society were numerous. She served as a member of the historical society’s board of trustees. As a strong supporter of the society, she attended the annual dinner meetings and any program or fundraiser held.
During her sixteen years as a volunteer at the historical society, Miss Smith developed two valuable resources. The Cecil County Writer’s Collection is one of those. The collection includes novels and other creative works that were written by Cecil County authors.
Another extremely valuable collection is known as the A. Rebecca Smith Yearbook Collection. Miss Smith collected yearbooks during her long career as a teacher and counselor at Elkton High School. Thirty-three Elkton High yearbooks were donated to the historical society by Miss Smith. Her donation inspired others in the county to donate their old yearbooks. The collection now has approximately 300 yearbooks, from Cecil County public and private high schools, and a small portion of the collection came from elementary and middle schools. Genealogy researchers find them invaluable for their work.
In 2014, the Historical Society of Cecil County awarded Miss Smith with its highest honor, the Ernest A. Howard Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation of the county’s heritage. The award is named after Ernest A. Howard, who was an active volunteer and supporter of the society, and was involved in its revival in the 1950s. A large contribution he made to the county when they were looking for a new location for the public library, led to the establishment of a home for the historical society in 1955.
Miss Rebecca Smith was a true treasure of Cecil County. Cecilton’s Facebook page said it best last week. “105 years young Miss Becky lived through and endured more than most can comprehend. Pandemics, wars, financial crises in our ever-changing world declaring her faith as her strength. She was a brilliant woman who was so proud of her community and profoundly impacted all she taught and met.”
Well done, good and faithful servant. Cecil County will miss you.