A Founder and Friend
In Memory of Mary Ann Chelius Smith
Reading Area Community College lost a true friend, benefactor and founder with the passing of Mary Ann Chelius Smith on July 20, 2013. Mary Ann played a prominent role in the founding of RACC. From the beginning, she not only embraced the need for a community college in Reading, she also foresaw the dividends that RACC would pay back to the community, one student at a time. She did so despite the peril her advocacy caused to a promising political career and in the face of significant, sustained opposition.
Over the years Mary Ann has served RACC as a member of the Foundation Board of Directors, College Trustee, active participant on innumerable committees and as a contributor to various special assignments. She served RACC concurrent with a long and successful career at Boscov’s. Mary Ann brought passion, enthusiasm and great sensibility to everything that she did. We often marveled at her ability to cut to the chase despite the complexity of the problem or issue at hand. Although the details of her service to RACC would literally fill pages, she famously resisted any and all efforts to shine a light on her contributions, preferring instead to keep the focus on our students. In 2012, Mary Ann was the honoree for the Foundation for RACC’s Celebration of Education Gala. In typical fashion she focused her attention not on the honor but on how she could use it to benefit our students.
Some 43 years later, RACC has served more than 110,000 individuals, including nearly 11,000 graduates and tens of thousands more who used RACC as a springboard to employment, career advancement or further education. While our students are perhaps the greatest of Mary Ann’s legacies, she would be the first to remind us that a sound future for RACC requires vision, courage and a continued belief in the power of education to transform both individuals and our community. The thriving College that we know today is proof positive that her heart and enthusiasm were wisely invested. We are deeply appreciative of all that she did to advance RACC and support our students.