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30 Years Gone...A Tribute

Barbara Houchin Evans-Smith
Oct. 21, 1920 - April 15, 1985                                                                                                                                     April 15, 2015

If I could photograph any ONE person of my choosing, anyone in the world... it would be my Nana. I’d like to go back in time to the way I remember her, and capture her spirit, her soft sweet smile, and her hard working hands ~ the hands of an INCREDIBLE artist. If I could, I would shadow her for a day, following her around the farmhouse that we all knew and loved as "Grassymead". And I might even struggle to keep up with her footsteps as we covered the never-ending acres and acres of farmland that belonged to her and my grandfather. I would document every detail of who she was through photography, clicking away. Perhaps I'd even get the opportunity to photograph her doing what she was best at in this world which was creatiing beautiful, one of a kind watercolor paintings of the places she had traveled both here and abroad. BUT I CAN'T DO THAT... because she has been gone for 30 years. Even as I type these words, it feels surreal and my heart is heavy. Her story ended far too early and the heartache of that loss still lingers today.


Before marrying in 1942, she studied fine arts at Parsons School of Design in New York during the early 1940's. Soon after graduating, she wed my grandfather and her life commenced as a military wife. My Nana was sooo much more than "just the woman" that stood behind her {uniformed} man all those years. She was a mother, a wife, a sister, a grandmother, a local community activist, a passionate artist, a poet, an educator, a farmhand ~ the list goes on and on.  The memories I have of my Nana are endless some days, and yet other days they are fading. But each memory is special and has contributed  and continues to shape who I am today. I can still recall shuffling along the dusty, dirt roads of Loudoun County, my mother, my sister and I by her side, as we participated in “Keep Loudoun Beautiful”. My Nana always gave so much of her time and her heart. And little did I know, she was passing on such meaningful lessons to her grandchildren. I wish so much that my own two children had been afforded the opportunity of knowing her personally. I wish they had been able to enjoy gingersnap cookies and lemonade on her flagstone porch as I once did when I was a little girl. So many adventures shared and so many memories made in what seems like a lifetime ago. It’s been 30 years, to the day. My last memory of her was having lunch together during the Oatlands Point to Point Races in Loudoun County on April 14, 1985 ~ and the following day, her life ended.


The photograph below can't begin to express the gratitude I have for my Nana but it is my hope that it portrays just how much she continues to hold an incredibly valuable piece of my heart & soul. She was the beginning piece of the puzzle to my artistic journey. This is my way of saying "thank you Nana", for the love you gave, the life lessons that you taught and for sharing your gift with your family ~ it's still making an impact 30 years later.



"Photography is more than Art; it is Art with great Emotion and Sentiment attached to it"

Full Circle

The Leica M3 that my Nana used many years ago and a photograph of her taken at about the age of eighteen. What a blessing it is to have these priceless items and to have a piece of her in my heart~ then, now & always.

I have a secret garden room

With walls of evergreen

The floor a square of vivid grass

A place to rest unseen.


A tiny nesting place for birds

Where music from the brook

Sings sweetly in the quiteness

Of this small fragnant nook.


A rough stone bench is waiting there

With periwinkle twined

And Heaven looks upon this spot

Which dwells within my mind.


Barbara Houchin Evans-Smith



Barbara Houchin Evans-Smith | October 21, 1920 - April 15, 1985

She was loving, she was warm, she was compassionate, she was every way

TOP LEFT: Oatlands  "Her Warm Smile" | TOP CENTER: "Christmas at Grassymead" | TOP RIGHT: Hamilton, VA "The Old Hamilton House"

BOTTOM LEFT: Hamilton, VA "Sisters at Grassymead" | 2nd FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Grassymead Farm 1971  "Nana & Me" |

3rd FROM BOTTOM LEFT:  "Oatlands 1973" |  BOTTOM RIGHT: "Thanksgiving at Grassymead 1973"

"...and Heaven looks upon this spot which dwells within my mind."

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