Helen Lucille Smith
January 5, 1922 – January 17, 2019
SMITH, HELEN LUCILLE “GIG, of Richmond, passed away Thursday January 17. Born in Richmond, she was the daughter of Walter and Mary Smith. Helen was born in 1922 and she enjoyed 97 years of great adventures and memorable accomplishments. A gifted artist, Helen attended the Pratt Institute in New York, but had to return to Richmond to care for her family and ultimately graduated from the Richmond Professional Institute. Eventually, she would become one of the first female industrial arts teachers in Virginia, spending her teaching career in the Richmond Public Schools. As gifted as Helen was as an artist, she was equally gifted as an athlete. Helen was a player in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League immortalized in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own”. Initially presented with the opportunity to play in the AAGPBL’s 1943 inaugural season, Helen instead followed her patriotic inclination and enlisted in the U S Army Women Army Corps to serve her country in the time of war. It was there she earned her lifelong nickname, “GIG”, which she explained later meant “Government Issue Gripe”. It seems that some of the provisions and equipment issued to her fell short of her expectations, and, in her own less than subtle way, she made her feelings known to her Army mates who immediately nicknamed her “GIG”. After her military service, Helen reached out to the AAGPBL scouts and she was signed to play the 1947 season for the Kenosha Comets, and she then played for the Grand Rapids Chicks in the 1948 season. In retirement, Helen often was asked to speak on her time with the AAGPBL, and she attended many of the AAGPBL Players Association reunions where she cherished reminiscing with other former players and friends. Helen was most proud when she and the other AAGPBL players were honored in 1998 with a permanent display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. In 1975, Helen was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame. Helen loved God, her country, her family and loyal friends. She was one of a kind and she will be missed by all of those who loved her. She is survived by numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and many great friends. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on February 5, 2019 in the Montague Chapel at Westminster Canterbury, 1600 Westbrook Ave., Richmond, VA 23227. Helen will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on a date to be announced. Helen’s family and friends would like to express their sincere thanks and appreciation to Helen’s extremely devoted caregivers at Westminster Canterbury. Donations made in Helen’s memory to the charity of your choice are sincerely appreciated.
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Helen Lucille Smith
January 29, 2019
I had the pleasure of working with Gig at the US Army Women's Museum. She was a great supporter when we founded the Friends of the Army Women's Museum Association (FAWMA). Her service, made our Army better. A true hero.
January 27, 2019
It was with great sadness that I learned yesterday of Gig's passing. She was an incredible lady! She served with great pride as a WW-2 WAC, rising to one of the highest enlisted ranks (T/Sgt). Her artistic abilities led her to an assignment in the Pentagon where she was part of a team that took intelligence information and portrayed it on maps. The hand-drawn maps were then sent as quickly as possible to the Pacific where it was hoped they would be able to use the information.
I met Gig after the opening of the Army Women's Museum, Ft. Lee, Va (2001). She was a long time volunteer at the Museum, and an important member of the Army Women's Foundation Board of Directors. Her common sense approach and ability to see get to the crux of the matter were extremely helpful, especially when discussions got off track! She was a great supporter of military women and of all veterans. Her time in baseball was also very important to her, and she greatly enjoyed attending reunions and was frequently a speaker about her baseball experiences and the Army,
She was a dear friend. Sadly we lost track a few years ago. Her passing leaves a void. May she rest in peace. My condolences to her family and friends. (The photo was taken at her Westminster apartment, July 2010.)
January 25, 2019
January 24, 2019
To Gig's Family
Thank you for sharing her with the baseball world! She is safe at "home!"
I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Chicago reunion in 2013! It was in the room where everyone was chit chatting or being interviewed.
I enjoyed taking it all in! I was getting alittle more comfortable on the chair when I noticed this gal(Gig). I had to shake my head as to clear the cobwebs.
She looked like my Mom! She was sitting by herself. I got up and went over to tell her so. Gig asked me if I was in the service as I looked like someone she knew!
We just sat there and talked baseball! Great memories!
Thank you Gig for those memories! Thank you for serving our country!
January 23, 2019
Gig, you are one of the bright smiles of any AAGPBL Reunion. I have enjoyed getting to know you. And will forever hold you in the highest regard.
January 23, 2019
We esteemed Gig as a very intelligent, caring, talented, Renaissance woman. She touched our lives and lives in our hearts. AAGPBL Players Association Secretary, Merrie Fidler
January 21, 2019
It has been an honor and a great privilege to get to know and care for this amazing woman for the past year. It was a rough beginning but there was always a mutual understanding, knowing that Gig would always win. (Or at least I let her think that she did) I looked forward to seeing her smile every morning... she always brightened my day.... and I looked for her every evening to say goodnight. I love a lady with a little temper....Gig was a fighter and she always let me know what she wanted or what she did not want. Gig taught me many things.... but most important was the unconditional love and respect. May her sufficiencies finally be sorensified.....I am so blessed to have Gig in my heart forever. What an amazing trailblazer. I am a better person because of Gig. I know that you are playing in the World Series...I will always be your #1 Fan. Xoxo 😚