A photo of Patricia Smith Pheris

Patricia Smith Pheris

February 24, 1939 - December 6, 2021

Patricia Smith Pheris, age 82, of Newark, DE, passed away peacefully on Monday, December 6, 2021, after a long illness from Atypical Parkinson’s Disease.

Patricia was born on February 24, 1939 in Kilmarnock, VA to the late Marvin Asbury Smith and Helen Audrey (Davis) Smith Edmonds. She attended St Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, VA, William & Mary College of Williamsburg, VA and University of DE where she earned her BA in Sociology ‘78 then Masters of Public Admin/Urban Affairs ’88. Pat was member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority since 1959 and was active at both colleges in Sorority mentoring programs and various functions.

In June 1960, she married William Everton Pheris IV (US Navy) with whom they had 4 children. They lived at various Naval Bases across the country and eventually settled in Newark, DE. After their divorce, Patricia remained in Newark with her children for remainder of her life. She cared for others in her 29-year career with Delaware State Department of Health and Social Services at the State Psychiatric Hospital. She had roles as a Psychiatric social worker, member of State Hospital Mobile Crisis Unit and as Q&A Inspector for Health and Social services outpatient services where she was involved in creating the states policies around the newly regulated federal HIPAA regulations. She retired from the State in 2006 that allowed her to pursue a wide array of other interests. She was a strong believer in supporting community to help others and commonly made the statement “It takes a village”. She had a continuous thirst for learning and enjoyed courses from Poetry to Investments at the University Of DE Academy Of Life Long Learning.

She was an avid reader, a book club member with a few different groups, participated in Together Women Rise (previously known as Dining for Women), and loved nurturing her flower and veggie gardens, visiting museums and art exhibits. Family and community were most important part of her life especially playing an active part of her grandkid’s lives. Patricia had a strong spiritual faith and was a long-time member of Newark United Methodist Church (NUMC) where she volunteered for many years. She was involved with the NUMC Empowerment Center, Code Purple support network for homeless, NUMC Outreach team to support church community and was a regular participant of Adult Sunday School group. She loved to travel with friends and family that took her on several adventures to many countries including trip to China to welcome her youngest granddaughter to the family.

The family wishes to thank the staff at Somerford House, Seasons Hospice Team, and Age Advantage for the months of gracious care of our Patricia while she fought with such determined strength to maintain her physical and mental health as the effects of Parkinson’s disease took over. We are forever grateful.

Pat’s greatest joy was her family. In addition to her parents, Patricia was preceded in death by her daughter-in-law, Joanne. She is survived by her 4 loving children, William E. Pheris V of Smyrna, James R. Pheris of Bear, Paige P. Meredith (Jerome) of Newark, and Robert F. Pheris of Bear; 3 grandchildren, Sarah P. Meredith, Ryan M. Meredith, and Julianne Q. Pheris; 2 brothers, William R. Smith (Elizabeth) of Weems, VA and George Henry Smith of Richmond, VA; and 2 nephews, many cousins and extended family in various areas of VA. 

A visitation for family and friends will be held from 1 pm until 2 pm on Thursday, December 16,2021 at Newark United Methodist Church, 69 East Main Street, Newark, DE, where a memorial service will begin at 2 pm. Masks are required at all times while in church. The family will be taking Patricia to her final resting place in Virginia later in 2022. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Patricia’s memory to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Grand Central Station, PO Box 4777, New York, NY 10163 or online by clicking here (indicate a Tribute donation online or put Patricia Pheris name in check memo).

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7 Condolences for Patricia Smith Pheris

  • Pat was a long time, dear, sweet friend during our careers in Community Mental Health in Delaware and, more often, times of just “Tomfoolery” . . . Pat loved to be together with friends in our book group, trips to Tilghman Island and ushering at the Delaware Theatre Company. Always LOTS of laughter. I feel blessed to have had a friend who leaves me with such wonderful memories, Judy

  • I will always remember Pat for the fun she brought to our little book club and to our weekend getaways in St. Michael’s. I will also remember her infectious laugh! She was a beautiful lady, inside and out, and I will miss her.

  • I remember Pat so fondly. She was always the kind and welcoming to me as a young cousin. My Brother Van Iden was close to her age and they enjoyed each other’s company at Smith family gatherings.

  • To The Pheris Family,

    My name is Helen McDonnell, I had the privledge and honor to work with Pat at the State Hospital and in the Community Mental Health Center. I always found her to be extremely inclusive, she shared her knowledge and her caring with both staff and clients. She had a great sense of humor and could lighten up any situation.
    I did meet all of you at her 80th Birthday Party. Be assured that you will be in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

  • So sad to hear of Pat’s passing. She was always so kind and personable, and so involved in helping others…

  • To all in Pat’s family we send our love and sympathy at the loss of this extraordinary lady. She was a light in our lives and accomplished so much in her life, it takes your breath away. Her grace and spirit in dealing with her illness was beyond admirable and showed her inborn grit and great strength. Robby is thankful for the years of mischief he shared growing up with Pat as his best buddy and fellow troublemaker. We are both thankful for the grownup years of fun and good times we got to share with her at the Rivah. We see her twinkling eyes, hear her laugh and she lives in our hearts daily…… always will.

  • Pat was such a blessing to so many. When I joined Newark United Methodist Church, she was my shepherd as I professed my faith as a new member. She walked beside me up the aisle and stood behind me at the altar. It was a moment I will never forget. Rest, my dear friend.