MARY ANN CHELIUS SMITH
I was fortunate to be in a very small, tight-knit circle of friends with Mary Ann. I say friends but we were really more of a support group at times as we were all helping each other cope with some difficult challenges life had thrown at us. In her case, it was the insurmountable loss of her beloved husband Bill. Through our time together, I got to learn all about Mary Ann’s impressive work with Boscov’s and her early work in local TV where she had her own cooking show. She didn’t know the first thing about cooking when she got the show but she learned as she went by borrowing cookbooks from the library. That was Mary Ann—there was not a professional challenge she was afraid to tackle and there was nothing she could not master. Despite all that she did in her work life, she took the most pride in her family. She never lost sight of the fact that family and friends are the most important part of life. Not only did she master the art of cooking, she also made the best lemon squares I have ever had.
Her memory was impeccable and not to be challenged. She prepared the critique for the opening of the first Boscov store in the early 1960’s and continued opening stores throughout the mid-Atlantic until she retired. I was with her at her home in Flying Hills where she was struggling physically but handling it with true dignity. I told her I valued her friendship and considered her a true friend. She paused and contemplated a bit and answered, “It takes one to know one!” That will remain my very special memory of her. Paula Flippin Journalist, Event Planner & Partner in Uniquely 4 U
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Susan N. Denaro, Esquire Wyomissing Law Firm of Rabenold Koestel Goodman & Denaro
W On July 16th, 24 years ago, Mary Ann interviewed me for a PR position at Boscov’s. Needless to say, that day changed my life. I worked for her until she retired, but more than that she was family and like another mother to me…and just about everyone else she knew. Mary Ann was incredibly talented, funny, creative, caring and generous. Peggy Mast Ziegler former Boscov employee
W I first met Mary Ann when I was 16 and a model for a fundraising fashion show for St. Margaret ’s Church’s woman’s club. In those days, Mary Ann lived with her grandmother on Hollenbach Street in northwest Reading. My mother and her cousin, Marguerite Arthur, were the owners of the E and M Dress Shop at the corner of Schuylkill Avenue and Hollenbach. They recognized the magnificent speaking voice of Mary Ann and I think hired her as the fashion show commentator. That began a lifelong friendship both personally and professionally. Mary Ann broke the glass ceiling for many women of Reading and Berks County. She was a one-of-a-kind creative writer and storyteller. She always found time to help when asked to help, as well as the time to be there for her two grandsons. She was often heading off to volleyball games.
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Published on Apr 21, 2014