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SMOOT, Virginia E., age 86

Died: Sunday, November 1st, 2020

There will be no service. Interment will be in Forest Hill Cemetery in Eau Claire.

The best tribute those who knew Virginia could give would be a memorial gift to the Chippewa Valley Museum in support of the Glenn Curtis Smoot Library and Archives.

But please also send a card, note, or letter including a favorite memory or story of Virginia.  You may forward it to the funeral home if you do not know the family address.


Virginia Ellen Beard Smoot died at 86 years, 11 months old on Sunday, November 1, 2020 with her son by her side at Heritage Court Memory Care in Eau Claire.

Virginia was born November 26, 1933, in Keokuk, IA to (Jamie) Marian (Babb) and Frank Joseph Beard of Kahoka, MO. Marian was a languages teacher and librarian at Clark County R-1 High School and Frank was a civil engineer.

Virginia grew up a tomboy in Kahoka under the adoring gaze of her grandfather, James C. Beard, a carpenter who taught her how to fish, play softball, and who built for her a gabled 100-square-foot playhouse complete with cabinets, sink, a skeleton-key door, clapboard siding, and double-hung windows. Virginia often rode her horse Butterball along the trails through their crop-farm on the edge of town and played with her rambunctious coal-black spaniel, Spooky.

In October of 1953, Virginia met Kenneth Eugene Smoot at the student union at the University of Columbia-Missouri when they were introduced by mutual friend, Glee Hutchins (later Gasper). They were married at Ken's parent's house Christmas Day a little over two months later and stayed married for 62 years until his death.

On that first date, they found they had much in common, including their childhoods in rural Missouri and their love of the St. Louis Cardinals. Among their many shared memories was watching Stan Musial hit five home runs in a double-header, a game which also featured an inside-the-park home run by rookie first baseman Tom Alston, who a few weeks earlier had become the Cardinals' first African American player.

Virginia and Ken first lived in Columbia, MO where Virginia completed a Master's Degree in geology and Ken completed a PhD in psychology. Their elder son, Glenn Curtis Smoot, was born in Columbia on October 5, 1958. Ken then took a position at Fort Hays Kansas State College; their younger son Frank Lester Smoot was born in Hays, KS on June 8, 1961.

In 1966, Ken was offered a position at Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire (now UWEC). The young family lived briefly on London Road and Badger Avenue, but while taking a Sunday drive they saw an American four-square house two miles down Silver Mine Drive on the banks of the Chippewa River, which they swore they'd buy if it ever came up for sale. Three years later it did. Ken spent a year renovating it, and the family moved there in 1970. By the time she moved to Heritage Court, Virginia had lived in that house fifty years, longer than any other person had.

There, Virginia and Ken built a hobby farm where they raised, milked, and showed French alpine goats for 39 years. They spent countless mornings and evenings laughing and talking in the milk parlor.

Virginia not only became an expert herdswoman, but also a dairy-goat judge, traveling widely in the upper Midwest. She was an avid reader, especially of mysteries, an avid birdwatcher, and a great collector of Santas from around the world, a hobby that started when a salesman had given her father a Santa one holiday season and which Virginia still had at her death 80 years later.

She is survived by her son, Frank; daughter-in-law, Valerie Caskey; her best friend, Janet Miller; many in-laws and many friends she met through the Chippewa Valley Dairy Goat Association (especially Mary Ketzler), and while dining out at Randy's, Altoona Family Restaurant and Olive Garden, a pastime she kept up until shortly before she moved into memory care.

Virginia was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Ken; and son, Glenn.

The family offers its lasting gratitude to the lovely, gracious, caring staff at Heritage Court Memory Care for her care in the last months of her life, made all the more challenging by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the staff of Visiting Angels and St. Croix Hospice who also kindly guided her on parts of her journey.





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