Daria Eden (Fanelli) Smith, 56, of Milldale, CT, passed away on January 31, 2021, at Southington Care Center, surrounded by her family. Daria leaves behind her beloved son, Jaden Owens Smith, and was predeceased by her cherished husband Leslie Owens Smith. She was the daughter of Dolores (Skelskey) Fanelli of Plantsville, CT, and the late Raymond Fanelli.
Daria graduated from Bristol Central High School. She attended Hartford College for Women, and graduated from Boston College with a degree in English Literature. Daria earned her master’s in social work from Boston University.
Typical of Daria’s warmth and big heart, her career was rooted in social services, focused on youth development, disadvantaged youth, and the disabled. She began her social service, non-profit, and public service career fundraising for former Congressman Chester Atkins, where she made life-long friendships with congressional and Massachusetts Democratic State Committee members and staff. She worked for many years for the City of Boston as the Director of Planning for the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.
Daria served as the Executive Director of the Napier Foundation and consulted with Bread for Life, Foundation of Central Connecticut, Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, Harvard School of Public Health, and Youth Violence Prevention Program. Beginning in 2009, Daria served as the Executive Director of the Connecticut State Independent Living Counsel, developing strategic partnerships to advocate for and expand independent living opportunities for people with disabilities in Connecticut.
Daria’s dedication to public service extended to her service on several boards and associations including the CT Youth Leadership Project, Disabilities Rights of CT, Southington Community Cultural Arts Center, Litchfield Montessori School Parent Association, CT Rises, Literacy Volunteers of Central Connecticut, Southington Public Library, Topf Center for Dance Education, Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, and most recently as a member of the board of the New England Tennis & Education Foundation.
Daria had a great love of tennis and was dedicated to supporting Sportsmen’s Tennis Club in Dorchester, MA, a tennis club for Boston youth founded by her parents-in-law, Jim and Gloria Smith, who predeceased Daria.
Daria was most at peace when she was out in nature, hiking, biking, swimming, and walking with friends and her son Jaden. If there was anyone who knew how to stop and smell the flowers, it was Daria. Her favorite place, that brought her so much joy, was Martha’s Vineyard, her island friend, where she and Jaden spent every summer soaking up the sun and reveling in the love of family and friends.
In addition to her son Jaden and mother Dolores, Daria leaves many close friends and colleagues from Boston and Connecticut, and a community of families from Litchfield Montessori School. She also leaves dear family friends, the Perry family of Boston, MA, with whom she has entrusted the care of her beloved and precious son Jaden – with the loving support of his grandmother, Dolores Fanelli.
The family will hold a memorial service at a later date, when Covid-19 restrictions are lessened and friends and family can come together to celebrate her incredible life and honor how she touched us all.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations for the benefit of Jaden O. Smith as follows: