Soon Ja Smith


image of Soon Ja Smith

Soon Ja Smith

Soon Ja Smith (née Yi) went home to God on December 12, 2023, in Woodinville, Washington.  Soon Ja was born in Korea on February 7, 1933, to Yi, Ki Taek (father) and Cha, Yong Ja (mother).  She was the third child of seven, all of whom are deceased except for one younger sister, Yi, Mu Ja, who still resides in South Korea.  Soon Ja was a devoted and godly wife to her late husband of 37 years, Richard William Smith, Jr, who passed on February 21, 1996.  She is survived by her only child, Nancy Smith-Vela, her son-in-law, Ariel Vela, two grandchildren, Ari Vela, Jr. & his wife Cyndi and Alexandra Vela-Browning & her husband Nick, and three great-grandchildren – Poppy, Luka, Cruz, all of whom loved and adored her very much and were the joys of her life.

Soon Ja grew up in Korea during the Japanese occupation until 1945, followed by the Korean War from 1950-1953.  In 1958 she met Richard William Smith, Jr. while employed at Osan Air Force base in Osan, South Korea and they were married on October 20, 1958.  Soon after the birth of their only child, Nancy, born in August 1959, Richard and Soon Ja moved to Japan and subsequently to the United States in 1964.

Richard was deployed to Vietnam in May 1966, leaving Soon Ja to raise Nancy alone, having only been in the U.S. for 2 years.  It was during this time that she improved her English reading and writing skills while preparing for her naturalization interview and citizenship exam and became a proud U.S. citizen in February 1967 in Del Rio, Texas.  Soon Ja demonstrated this type of intelligence, determination, courage, and persistence throughout her life.  She highly valued education, continuously improving herself through learning, and passed these characteristics onto her daughter.  Soon Ja exemplified what it meant to be a loving, caring, hardworking, strong, confident, and selfless wife and mother to her family.  Throughout her life struggles, she overcame them because of her calling as a mother and with her faith in her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Richard’s military career allowed the family to live all over the United States, including 7 years in Puerto Rico.  In 1979, Richard & Soon Ja decided to move from Puerto Rico to Washington State in order to live closer to Nancy, who had been attending the University of Washington.  Soon Ja lived in Bremerton until March of 2020.  With the onset of the Covid pandemic, the family felt it would be better if Soon Ja moved to Woodinville, WA to live with her daughter and son-in-law, where she resided until her passing.

There’s an idiom that states every dark cloud has a silver lining.  With the pandemic being a very dark cloud, Soon Ja deciding to move in with Nancy and Ariel was the silver lining, as she was able to spend her final years enjoying her time with her daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  Soon Ja lived her faith and “her children arise and called her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28)

Mom…you are greatly loved and missed.

A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, February 11, 2024 at 11:00 A,M. at the Bremerton Korean Presbyterian Church, 2381 Perry Avenue, Bremerton, WA  98310

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