A brilliant red cardinal landed in the empty hallway of Parkersburg South High School on a sunny Saturday afternoon in May. The cardinal allowed the son and granddaughter of an amazing man to pick him up, gently stroke his feathers, and release him into the great outdoors where he flew away peacefully. The meaningful and heartwarming symbol of the red cardinal’s visit is a gentle reminder that, in spirit, we are never far apart from those we love. The Cardinal Memorial was then created from this encounter to celebrate the life of a truly wonderful person.
Joe Smith was that amazing man - intelligent, witty, loving, faithful, kind and unforgettable. He was devoted to his wife, Sherry; his sons, Ryan (Ashley) and Zac, and his beautiful grandchildren, Nola Rosie and Jonah. He loved his family beyond measure. He grew up in Parkersburg, the son and brother of a loving family, and graduated from Parkersburg High School and Marshall University. He worked for thirty-seven years in Wood County Schools as a teacher, school counselor, service personal facilitator/tester and Director of the Caperton Center for Applied Technology. He was involved in his church and community through coaching sports teams, leading church youth groups, tutoring disadvantaged students and counseling kids from troubled circumstances. He never met a stranger and lived life to his fullest, always enjoying company and conversation wherever he went.
When he passed away in February 2021 of Covid Pneumonia at the age of 68, his family was unable to celebrate his life completely because of community health concerns with the disease. The Cardinal Memorial was established out of his family’s unending love, devotion, and desire to commemorate his life. With this fund, The Cardinal Memorial Scholarship will be forever awarded to a graduating senior with plans to pursue a degree in education and share their love for learning.