Virginia Stanton Smith, respected attorney, generous philanthropist, prolific community volunteer, and beloved wife and mother, died December 17, 2020, in Pittsfield, MA, in the circle of her family.
Born on March 12, 1959 in Boston, MA, to Vincent P. and Mary Alice Stanton, Ginger enjoyed a childhood with four siblings, and those early years shaped the personal tenets that guided her always: a love for others, a love for nature and an appreciation for the abundance in her life. After earning a B.A. degree from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, she went on to earn a J.D. degree from Boston College Law School, Newton, MA, in 1984, and that same year began her legal career as an associate at Cain, Hibbard, Myers & Cook, P.C.
In 1983, Ginger met Craig E. Smith, who became her partner in their many life adventures. Wed on September 19, 1987, their complementary teamwork was a hallmark of their loving relationship, with so many shared interests and genuine support for each other's independent endeavors.
Professionally, Ginger's practice encompassed real estate law, estate and trust administration, and estate planning. The latter area of focus drew upon Ginger's deep well of compassion and understanding of the complexities that exist within many families. She quietly gave of herself to her clients who were alone, with personal visits instead of phone calls, responding to many different needs with empathy and patience. In 1995, Ginger ensured her ability to direct her professional future, becoming first, of counsel, then a partner in Grinnell Smith, LLP. The firm expanded to become Parese, Sabin, Smith and Gold, LLP, in 2011. In 2013, Ginger became a founding partner in Smith, Green and Gold, LLP. In each law firm, her sense of integrity, kindness, fairness and service to others earned her the trust of not only her clients, but also of her professional peers. She was a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Real Estate Bar Association, serving the latter as Director and Chair of the Practice Standards Committee. Additionally, she was a member of the Berkshire County Bar Association and the Berkshire County Estate Planning Council, serving as Co-Chair from 1996-2006. She was the author of numerous articles in the realm of estate planning, and spoke on the topics of financial, estate and health care planning and real estate matters to professional and community groups throughout her career.
The community, especially the community of the Berkshires, was deeply important to Ginger, and her volunteer work reflected her concern for the health and well-being of those around her. She served on the boards and many committees of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berkshire Health Systems, 18 Degrees, Hancock Shaker Village, Berkshire United Way, and Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services of the Berkshire, Inc., now the Brien Center. Additionally, she was a trustee of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and served on committees for Community Access to the Arts, Elder Services of Berkshire County, Berkshire Fund, Inc., North Adams Regional Hospital, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. In 2019, Ginger was the recipient of the Berkshire United Way's Leaders in Philanthropy Award. Her remarks provided insights into Ginger's philosophy of giving, and, in many ways, her philosophy of life. "Why do we give? For me, the answer is that it is part of what makes me human. We live in relationship with each other. When we give, we are answering the call to love one another, to care for one another, and not look the other way." Ginger and Craig found deep joy together in giving to the many causes they cared about, including St. Stephen's Episcopal Parish, the Pan-Mass Challenge, Berkshire Immigrant Center, Berkshire Theatre Group, and Community Legal Aid, in addition to each of the organizations Ginger served.
While her profession and her commitment to the community were important, nothing was more important to Ginger than her family. She and Craig raised three daughters, Becky, Hannah and Liza, imbuing each with the confidence, strength and values to be successful individuals in a challenging, changing world. She was very proud of their individual accomplishments and the young women they have become. Their family life was rich with love, which they shared so freely. Nothing pleased Ginger more than to host a celebration with family and friends, and there was always something to celebrate! Her warmth and genuine hospitality often brought together those who weren't acquainted, but who left the event as friends. Ginger also had a passion for cooking and baking, even more so in company with her daughters. Menu planning was serious business, especially for large family get-togethers, with spreadsheets to capture all the ingredients and denote who was lead cook and who was doing prep on any given night.
Ginger loved to travel, and she and Craig visited all seven continents and more than 40 countries, with deep appreciation for the cultural aspects of each opportunity and the people they met along the way. But as much as she loved foreign adventures, Ginger held the Berkshires and Massachusetts most dear. The woods were her self-proclaimed "happy place," and any given weekend would find her hiking the Taconic Crest Trail, a Berkshire Natural Resources Council trail, or the Appalachian Trail. The plans always called for a loop or point-to-point, never an out-and-back: "too boring!" Her family also knew that a long car ride would be broken up by a short hike on a trail that just happened to be conveniently near the route. Ginger also loved the ocean, the destination for many a weekend getaway with Craig and summer vacations with the family. An avid runner, Ginger completed her first half marathon in May 2013, one week after she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. She was delighted to beat that time by ten minutes when she ran her second half marathon a year later. Ginger's spirituality, unfailing positivity and extraordinary capacity to persevere underpinned her ability to endure cancer for more than seven years, with quality of life for her family and for herself guiding each day until the end.
In addition to her husband, daughters and parents, Ginger is survived by her siblings, Vincent P. Stanton, Jr., MD (Viva Fisher), Peter Stanton (Stephanie), Sheila Stanton (Jurgen Schulz), and Dorie Stanton, as well as four beloved nieces and nephews, Sarah, David, Theo and Ella.
The best way we can honor Ginger, whose gratefulness for the abundance in her life expressed itself in so many ways, is to think about those in need, and give of our heart.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Dec. 18, 2020.