Dena Tialori Evelyn Matthews Smith, beloved daughter of Alphine Matthews and the late Howard Matthews, Sr., was born in Onancock, VA, on August 3, 1967. Dena was called quietly from labor to rest on April 24, 2021, at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, VA.
Dena received her formal education in the Accomack County Public Schools System. Before graduating from Nandua High School in 1985 Dena cultivated her fun-loving personality and popularity amongst her peers. Her love for sports and outstanding athletic talents flourished in softball, basketball, and cheerleading.
Until her resting day Dena remained married to her high school sweetheart of thirty-three years, Hillery Smith. Their beautiful union produced three children; Direal, Jasmine, and Jessica Smith, as well as nine grandchildren that she loved and adored more than anything in the world.
At an early age Dena accepted the Lord as her savior at St. John Baptist Church in Onancock, VA. She maintained her faith by attending church services throughout the years and finding new church homes in the Chesapeake and Portsmouth areas, where she and her husband continued raising their growing children.
As a lifelong member of the ‘Sugarhill Gang’, a friendship group lasting from teenaged years through adulthood, Dena’s role was as special to her as it was to them. Her friends’ overall love and support contributed to her happiness and carried her through significant moments of her life.
Dena’s heart mostly filled while in the presence of her Matthews and Stewart family. There wasn’t a wedding, cookout, reunion, or family gathering to take place without Dena serving as “the life of the party"! Touching the lives of others also came naturally to Dena through the bonds she created professionally (in her career as a manager) and personally as a mother figure to her nieces and nephews. Affectionately, she was known as “Mama Bear” to both Ke’Anjra Harmonson and Tykia Kees. Dena’s spirit will live on through memories of her bright personality, infectious laughter, and beautiful smile from now until forever.
Left to cherish her memories are her husband of thirty-three years, Hillery Smith, three children; Direal Smith, Jasmine Smith, and Jessica Smith; nine grandchildren; her mother, Alphine Matthews; her mother-in-law, Mae Helen Smith; three brothers, Kerwin Northan, Kelvin Northan (Cathy), Howard Matthews, Jr.; four sisters, Angie Topping (Buddy), Nicole Ames (Travis), Princess Bragg, and Sierra Butler; one sister-in-law, Gretta Smith; a special cousin, Tyra Bailey; two special friends raised as sisters, Tammi Tyler and Vivian Drummond; two great-aunts, Catherine Veney and Lucille Sample; eight aunts, two uncles, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives, and friends.
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