Gerald F. Smith, Jr. '79 | Handley 100th Notable
Gerald F. Smith, Jr. ’79

Gerald “J. J.” Smith met Kaye DeHaven (Class of 1980) on the Handley Junior Historical Society trip to Richmond/Williamsburg/Yorktown in March 1978. They have been making history in Winchester ever since.

J.J. earned his B. S. in Accounting from Wake Forest University in 1983 and joined Price Waterhouse as a staff accountant. In 1985, he returned to Winchester to join his father as the third generation of their family-owned and run business, Valley Proteins, Inc.

J. J. assumed the role of President of the company in 1992. He served as Chairman, President and CEO from 2003 to 2022. In 2022, Valley Proteins, the largest privately owned recycler of animal by-products, sold to the largest investor owned recycler, Darling Rendering.

He is currently Vice-Chair of the Board of First National Corporation, parent of First Bank based in Strasburg, VA. He is a Trustee of the Glass-Glen Burnie Foundation and a member of the Valley Health System Corporation.

J. J. has served as a member of the executive committee of the Shenandoah Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America; a Trustee of Shenandoah University; a member of the Winchester Regional Airport Authority; and a board member of the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum.

He has also served on the Wake Forest University School of Business Board of Visitors; the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education; and the board of the Virginia Historical Society.

Flying since high school, he is a licensed commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings and type rated in B300 aircraft.

J. J. and Kaye have three children who are all Handley graduates – Evan (Class of 2011), Emily (Class of 2014) and Elise (Class of 2018).

J.J. recently wrote that a number of teachers at Handley left lasting impressions on him and prepared him well for college. He commented that many of his teachers could have been successful in other fields but chose to dedicate themselves to teaching. He cited Jonathan Wilson in biology, Mary Virginia Carson in chemistry, and Harold Phillips in physics. He considered David Pleacher, his trigonometry teacher, the best mathematics teacher he had before enrolling at Wake Forest.
In 2011, J.J. and Kaye contributed funds to the Winchester Education Foundation to endow the James Porterfield Chair of the Handley English Department. He considered James Porterfield his most inspiring English teacher who had prepared him well for the rigors of college.
J. J. and Kaye have made a number of other contributions to both Handley and the Winchester Education Foundation including funding for the purchase of the planetarium projector in honor of deceased members of the Class of 1979, the lead gift for the new Handley track, funding for the football weight room and, along with his brother Mike (Class of 1985), a gift to the school’s renovation after which the Handley Boulevard entrance hall was named in their honor.

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