Priscilla Smith

July 12, 2010
Village Improvement Association Citizenship Award winner Priscilla Smith stands between Mayor Sam Cooper, right, and Guy Martin, left, husband of the late Nancy Martin, who won the award last year. Smith was honored for her years of service as president of the Friends of the Rehoboth Public Library. Smith has been president for 15 years, as well as a driving force in putting on the annual Chocolate Festival, along with Rehoboth Main Street. NONE RYAN MAVITY PHOTO

Forgive Priscilla Smith if she gets a bit uncomfortable talking about herself.
“I don’t say much,” she joked.

A modest person, Smith gets a bit embarrased at some of the accolades she receives, most recently the Village Improvement Association’s Citizenship Award, which honors a woman in the Cape Henlopen area that makes a lasting contribution to the community.

Smith was honored for her 15 years of service as president of the board of directors of the Friends of the Rehoboth Beach Public Library. She also serves as Rehoboth’s city treasurer and is also supportive of her church, All Saints Episcopal.

Smith’s involvement with the friends of the library was a happy accident.

“I don’t know, somebody just called me up and asked me to be on the board. I was on the board for a while, then, I guess we just couldn’t find anyone to be president,” she said.

The Friends help raise funds for the library, which, coincidentally, was one of the Village Improvement Association’s (VIA) earliest projects, dating back to 1912.

One of the Friends’ major fundraising events is the annual Chocolate Festival, which attracts visitors from as far away as Ohio and has become a major spring event.

Smith has been around for all 19 previous chocolate fests. She said the event was started by Patty Derrick and then was continued by the city as a fall event. The next two chocolate festivals were put on by the VIA and then the Parks Committee, which Smith was chairwoman of.

Eventually, Friends and Main Street began alternating years before coming to the joint sponsorship the two organizations enjoy today.

Of the growth of the chocolate festival, Smith said, “It’s amazing. It’s really amazing. The first year was just as big as it is now, but then it really petered out for a while.

“Since Main Street’s gotten involved it’s better because they can get the merchants in to sell things and advertise.”

While you may think the sight of people lined around the block for chocolate would make Smith proud, she joked, “I feel bad for the people out there. I want them to rush through and eat!”

Smith’s role in the festival is to pick judges and gather volunteers.

Despite her modesty, she was touched to be the second recipient of the VIA’s Citizenship Award. The first winner was friend and colleague Nancy Martin, who recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Presenting the award to Smith was Martin’s husband, Guy.

“I’m very honored to follow in her footsteps, obviously. She was really a great force here in Rehoboth and everyone looked up to her, so I’m honored, really,” Smith said.

Originally from Dover, Smith and her family moved around a lot until settling down in the city she is proud to call home. She and her husband retired to Rehoboth 27 years ago.

A housewife, Smith raised her three children and didn’t get involved in community affairs until her move to Rehoboth.

“I’ve been here every summer since I was born. To me, it’s just home,” she said.

“The whole atmosphere. It’s friendly. You just look at it and think of home.”

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