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Hundreds attend memorial for Tina Smith; Candlelight celebration held for Brittany

Family, friends and hundreds of people from all walks of life paid their last respects to Tina Louise Dyer Smith Saturday morning at Ash Avenue Baptist Church, and on Sunday her 12-year-old daughter, Brittany, received a warm welcome during a candlelight celebration held in her honor.

The 41-year-old former South Boston resident was found murdered at her Fort Lewis Circle home in Salem on Dec. 6.
Roanoke County police have not said how Smith died.

Her daughter who was the recent focus of a weeklong multi-state Amber Alert and nationwide search, attended the memorial service accompanied by her father, South Boston Police Officer Benjamin “Bennie” Smith.

Before the service began a variety of comforting and familiar hymns were played on the piano and organ including “Jesus Paid It All,”“Jesus Is Calling” and “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.”

The service began with a guitar and singing duet by Kristin Spangler and Carly Hoskins who performed the song “Don’t Worry About Me.”

The Rev. John Eure, pastor of Ash Avenue Baptist Church, conducted the memorial service offering words of scripture including Genesis 9: 12-17, Joshua 1: 7-9, John 14: 1-6 and John 16: 32-33.

A photo slideshow containing photographs of Smith and her family during happier times was shown as part of the service.

The photographic display also showed Smith as a child growing up over the years, school pictures, parties, her years of military service, nursing school graduation, beach trips and skydiving.

The slideshow ended with the message “We love you…Bunches and Bunches.”

Heartfelt sobs could be heard throughout the church as the slideshow played and throughout the entire service.

Afterward, Gayle Haley and the Rev. Eure sang a duet of one of Smith’s favorite hymns, “Victory In Jesus.”

Eure laughed and told those in attendance “Tina always sang this song a little louder than the others.”

Eure’s memorial message entitled “The Gift” came from II Corinthians 5:14-15.

“Even though this is a part of a story in Tina’s life, it is not the whole story of Tina’s life. For there are things beyond today that she needs to be remembered for, and the murder should not define who she was,” said Eure. “We don’t want to define her by what happened to her.

“We need to be reminded that while Tina was with us, God gave her to us as a gift. Sometimes we didn’t exactly know how to handle the instructions with the gift, but nevertheless, it was a gift that had a heart of compassion, that had a heart for family, that even had a heart for her church family.

“She had a heart of compassion, especially for those who were down and out. And just as Tina could warm your heart, just part of her character was one that could sometimes frustrate you in her own unique way. But you know what? That is common to every person, that we are imperfect beings,” Eure said.

“Tina was one who was a person of service. She believed in serving others and certainly being a nurse. That is a good quality to have. For you want a nurse to be caring and compassionate, but her service extended not only to those who she worked with in the various nursing homes but also extended to her family in particularly her children, Tyler and Brittany. And to other children that she had a big heart for.

“As she served as a nurse, she also found a larger service to her country, as she served a number of years in military service for our nation,” he added.

A carefully folded United States Flag, surrounded by a dozen red roses and colorful poinsettias, paid tribute to Smith’s years in the military.

Eure reflected back on happier times in Smith’s life including a time when she led a children’s portion of the worship service in which she explained to the children that eggs have certain pressure points which can be pressed, and the egg will not break.
One child, according to Eure, smashed the egg between both hands, leaving a stain on the carpet at the front of Ash Avenue Baptist Church.

The pastor reiterated, “We don’t want to define her by how she died, and yet it is because of what has happened and because of us being here that we’re sad, and we have to address that.

“Don’t let this divide you. For usually a situation like this can do only one of two things. It can bring you closer together, or it can divide you further apart. Let it draw you together. Be tolerant with one another.

“How in the world do we take such a life that was so bright and so caring, quirks and all, and how do we get through something like this?” he asked.

The message to take away from the service is forgiveness, Eure concluded.

The service ended with Kelly Bowen’s rendition of “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).”

Candlelight service

On Sunday afternoon a community candlelight celebration at Constitution Square was held to welcome Brittany Smith home to South Boston.

Smith took center stage and was welcomed by a crowd, including members of her extended family, who attended the festive event that featured music and speakers.