Joyce Hilborn (Verrill) Smith of Nassau Bay, passed away peacefully on April 2, 2012, after a determined struggle to recuperate from a major stoke and heart attack almost nine months earlier. Joyce was a strong, intelligent and gracious lady who kept those qualities throughout her illness. Joyce was born February 29, 1924, in New Haven, Connecticut, the third and youngest daughter of George Elliot and Amy Christina Verrill. She was the granddaughter of eminent zoologist, Addison Emery Verrill, of Yale University and niece of the noted Alpheus Hyatt Verrill. Her family moved shortly thereafter to the island of Kauai, Hawaii until she was two and then spent the rest of her childhood in Santa Barbara, California. She met her husband of 67 years, A. Gene Smith, while attending Stanford University and majoring in English and Education. (She was never above correcting her children's grammar as adults.) They married in March 1945 and after his naval service during World War II, they settled in southern California.
When her two oldest children where toddlers, Joyce endured a nine-month separation from Gene when he was called back to active duty during the Korean Conflict. Gene's career with Shell Oil then took them to The Netherlands, New York and then finally Nassau Bay in 1964. When Gene retired in 1984 they increased their already extensive travels and had soon visited every continent. Particularly fond of cruises, the family joked that they personally kept certain lines in business having logged over two years in cruise days. However, those trips resulted in deep friendships with numerous overseas friends. Joyce was a tireless volunteer and leader in many organizations including Girl Scouts, St. John's Hospital, PTA, Republican politics, Clear Creek ISD, and the Nassau Bay Garden Club. She was the first "First Lady" of Nassau Bay when Gene was elected mayor in 1970.
Joyce and Gene were avid sailors at the Houston Yacht Club, where she also served as President of the Ladies' Association. She loved opera, ballet and classical music and was a long time patron to the arts in Houston. Many will remember her for her beautiful garden. Joyce loved and stayed close to her friends and expansive, extended family which included the four legged variety. She never forgot a birthday, an anniversary or a graduation continuing to send cards, letters and gifts, as best she could during her illness. She made every birthday and Christmas seem extra special when even the simplest gift, would be elaborately wrapped. Joyce was preceded in death by two daughters, Janet Louise Smith Bozarth and Barbara Lynn Smith Moses, and her sister, Ruth Verrill McQuigg. She is survived by her husband, Gene; son, Richard Gene Smith and wife, Yuh-rong of Northborough, MA; daughter, Christine Joyce Smith-Byerly and husband, Jim, of Houston; grandsons, Stuart Gene Smith and wife, Joan of Houston and Daniel Leonard Moses of Pittsburgh, PA; sister, Eunice Verrill Norberg of Palo Alto, CA as well as many beloved nieces and nephews. The family would like to thank Drs. Ravindra Kumar and Ralph Mancini for their dedicated efforts and Cameo Caregivers and Vitas Hospice for their loving care of Joyce. A family service will be held with interment on April 21 at the Verrill Family plot, Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut. Those wishing to make contributions in her memory, please consider Vitas Hospice Charitable Fund, 4848 Loop Central Drive, #650, Houston, Texas 77081.