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Barbara Smith

August 20, 1932 ~ November 6, 2018 (age 86)

Our beloved Mom and Grandma, Barbara Ellen Smith, died Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at her home in Summerville.


Born August 20, 1932, in Covington, Virginia, to the late Louise Ruley Smith and the late Willie Murrell Smith, Barbara graduated from Covington High School in 1949 where she met her sweetheart, Albert Kenneth “Buddy” Sink, Jr. After high school, she attended the Jefferson School of Commerce in Charlottesville, VA, before moving briefly to Washington, DC, to work for the Department of the Navy, but even the distance couldn’t keep them apart. She returned to Virginia, accepting a job in the Payroll Department at the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (Westvaco) where Buddy was already employed, and they were married in 1952. The following year, they welcomed their daughter, Roberta Louise “Robin” Sink, followed by their son, Albert Kenneth “Jay” Sink, III. Following Buddy’s accidental drowning in the Jackson River in March of 1963, Barbara packed up her children and headed southward in search of new beginnings and warmer weather, and to be closer to her mother.


Several years after settling into their home on James Island and working for the Public Savings Life Insurance, she met her second husband, James Richard ‘Jim’ Rowley and his children, James “Jimmy” Rowley and Tanya Rowley. They were married shortly after and welcomed their son, James Richard “Ricky” Rowley, soon following. During this time, they moved to Summerville, a town that Barbara would love and call her home off and on for the next 50 years. 


During those next 50 years, Barbara did more, saw more and gave more than many folks ever do.  In the late 1960s, she became a single mother once again, but rather than let it defeat her, she used it as an opportunity to forge her own path. She opened the first child care facility in Summerville, the Child Care Center of Summerville, spending much of her time educating mothers that it was not only OK to leave their little ones in the care of others, but that it could be beneficial to both the parents and the children. Over the next decade, she became an accomplished businesswoman and opened two more child care facilities for a total of three in the Lowcountry that she would run for many years to come.


And her love of children didn’t stop there. In the 1970s, she purchased and transformed property in Walterboro, SC, into a summer camp for kids, complete with dining hall, bunkhouses and a giant swimming hole. In the 1980s, she went back to school to earn her Associate’s Degree, graduating in 1994.  In the 1990s, she worked diligently to become a therapeutic foster parent. Over the next decade, she would welcome and play a vital role in raising more than 10 foster children who had been already been victims of neglect or abuse in their young lives, both while she was still working and after retiring from the preschool business and handing the reigns over to her daughter. She also worked as a Guardian ad Litem within the foster system. Many of these children have grown into remarkable adults, several of whom our family still considers family to this day.


A lifelong avid traveler- her favorite spots being Hawaii, Portugal and Switzerland, where she just spent last Christmas- Barbara craved adventure and she always knew how to have fun. Best of all, she knew how to bring out those qualities in others- she never met a stranger. This was particularly handy during her 45 years as a member of St. Lukes Lutheran Church where she led or was part of countless small groups, classes and organizations. And oh how she loved her church friends dearly.


Barbara is predeceased by her sons, Jay and Ricky, and her stepchildren, Jimmy and Tanya. She is survived by her daughter, Robin (Larry) Knox of Summerville, three granddaughters, Erin (John) Thomas of Summerville, Megan (Steve) Driggers of Lake City, SC, and Heather (Fred) Wilson of the Upstate, three great grandchildren, Neve, Sam and Judson, and her beloved chihuahua and cat, Ellie Mae and Cletus.


The family will hold a small Celebration of Life at the Small Chapel of St. Lukes Lutheran Church on Monday, November 12, at 11am.


In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to the St. Lukes Lutheran Church Building Fund at 206 Central Avenue, Summerville, SC 29483.


Arrangements by:    THE BRICE W. HERNDON AND SONS FUNERAL HOMES AND CREMATORY, WALTERBORO CHAPEL, 1193 Bells Highway, Walterboro, 843.538.5408.  Visit the registry online at:

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