Rebecca “Becca” Mann Schmill of Needham, MA, passed away unexpectedly from an accidental drug overdose on September 16, 2020, at the age of 18. Becca was the loving daughter of Stuart and Debra Schmill of Needham, MA, and the adoring sister of Samantha Schmill. A recent graduate of the Cambridge School of Weston, Becca had been accepted at the University of Richmond.
Becca was a beautiful and caring person with a gift for making those around her feel loved and appreciated. Her smile could light up a room. Her passion for life and vibrant spirit were hallmarks of her personality. She was adventurous, curious, and willful. She was a sensitive soul.
Becca had an innate sense of equity and fairness that led her to become involved in issues of social justice. There is no doubt that she would have pursued these issues in meaningful ways had she not been taken so soon.
In addition to her parents and sister, Becca is survived by her maternal grandmother, Florence Mann of Newton, MA, her paternal grandfather, Hyman Schmill of St. Charles, IL, and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins all of whom loved her more than words can express, and none of whom will ever forget her. She was also blessed with many close friends who share in the family’s profound loss.
Hers was a life full of potential, tragically cut short. But we are all grateful for each precious moment we had with her.
Becca’s passing at such a young age leaves a void in the hearts of all who loved her, a void that will never truly be filled. But we can all help provide some meaning to this otherwise senseless tragedy by supporting one or more of the following organizations in her memory, all of which were important to Becca: Jane Doe Inc., The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault, donate online https://janedoe.org, or call (617) 248-0922, or Black Lives Matter donate online at https://blacklivesmatter.com, or Community Health Partnership-Honduras, donate online https://www.chp-honduras.org, or call (508) 237-1384.
Funeral Services will be private due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A link to Becca’s funeral service can be found below.
The eulogy composed by Stuart and Debbie Schmill:
“Our hearts ache. They ache for all the smiles we will never see, and the hugs we will never feel. Our hearts ache for the pain Becca’s death has caused our extended family, and each of her many, many close friends. Our hearts ache for the tragedy of losing our beautiful, kind, fun-loving daughter, before she reached her 19th birthday.
Our love for Becca was and is endless. No loss is easy, but this one is unimaginable and untenable. As has been mentioned by others, Becca was a bright light in a dark room. She was funny, adventurous, willful and determined. Not always determined in the ways we would have wanted, but it was still one of her most admirable qualities.
Her willfulness was evident even at a very early age, when as a toddler, her Uncle Ricky commanded her in a playful moment: “Don’t even think about being so cute”… to which she immediately replied with a twinkle in her eye… ”I’m thinking about it.”
From the time she was born, Becca was determined not to miss out on anything. As a result, we missed out on a great deal of sleep. Becca’s adventurous, fun-loving spirit was a source of great joy for everyone around her. She was absolutely adored by her grandmother and grandfather, and all her aunts, uncles and cousins. Likewise, Becca looked forward to every gathering of her local family members and every trip to see her family in New York and Chicago.
Becca quickly adopted a second family and home when she started spending her summers at Camp Chimney Corners. She spent the school year counting the days until camp. To her, there was nothing better than being with a bunk of girlfriends sharing their deepest thoughts and dreams, and challenging themselves and growing together. At camp, Becca was known as a peacemaker and a leader. Becca learned the strength of true friendship and loyalty, and developed a strong sense of self-worth as a female at camp. Camp was a highlight of her much too short life.
She made some of the most enduring friendships of her life at camp and many have contacted us since hearing of Becca’s death. This is a quote from one of those friends:
“Becca was a master of balance. Her life traveled with the present, her relationships grounded in a perpetual past. Both light and heavy, Becca defied the societal heaviness to which I conformed. She was, and she is. I don’t think I will ever meet someone like her again.
“The weight of Becca’s life will be with me forever, but so will her lightness. And this is what makes Becca so special because in the heavy folds of our friendship exists bursts of light—so many laughs and hugs, smiles, and dances.”
Becca’s belief in herself gave her a determination that was unwavering and not always welcomed by us. Whenever we asked why she was doing something she wasn’t supposed to do, she would say with a sly smile, “because it’s fun.”
Becca had a way of getting into your heart, with her big brown eyes, sweet demeaner and desire to heal what ailed you. She was not just our daughter. She was our friend. She comforted us when we were in pain.
For those who might not know, Becca was also a Busker (a street performer) for a short while when we lived in Jamaica Plain. She had decided that she needed to earn her keep. She was 14, and surely the youngest busker in JP at the time. She would carry her guitar and tip jar to Centre Street, sit on the sidewalk and play, often with voice accompaniment of her friend Dani. After a few hours she would collect her earnings and treat us all to dinner. Every time she headed out with her guitar, I would tell her she needed a permit to busk and that the police were going to approach her one day. And sure enough, one day a policeman approached her… and put a $1 bill in her tip jar.
Becca was a joy and we are left with so many wonderful memories of time spent with her:
– Our annual camping trips with friends, sitting around the campfire playing games and eating smores.
– Visits to various presidential libraries and museums (Becca knew more about Rutherford B. Hayes …. than Rutherford B. Hayes did)
– Dad and Becca’s annual summer trip to The No Name restaurant
– Mom and Becca singing the “Luna song,” always ending with a big laugh and a hug
– Family vacations filled with hand holding and hugs
– Long talks and walks together discussing her dreams and her struggles
By the time Becca was 18 and nearing her 19th birthday, she had faced quite a few challenges. But she honestly never complained. She was incredibly brave, and as her parents, we are so very proud of who she was, how she lived her life fully.
Today is a terribly sad day, but now is not only a time for tears. If all we do is cry, we will fail Becca and ourselves. Today we need to remember her smile, her happiness, and the unmitigated joy she brought to all of our lives.
A school friend of Becca’s maybe said it best: “She managed to make those around her smile even when she wasn’t in our presence and I know all will continue to remember how big of a role she played in our lives. She will always be loved and always be in our hearts.”
Today we also must remember Becca’s struggles and how she fought to overcome them. We must remember that Becca was, above all, a human being, full of contradictions, strengths and weaknesses. And that human beings die. That is the destiny we all share.
All we can really hope for… from a life well lived… is to be remembered as being kind to others and loved by those who truly knew us. In her almost 19 years, Becca achieved what many never achieve in a hundred.
She was kind, she was loving, and she was so very much loved.”
The following tribute was received from the Community Health Partnership-Honduras, an organization for which Becca volunteered in providing medical services to impoverished villagers in Honduras.
“In our decades of working in Honduras, we have had exactly one child out of hundreds, just one, come back to the states and of her own volition start organizing local drives to generate funds and materials to help the people in those rural regions- that was, of course, Becca. She and Deb came with us to La Florida, Honduras 4 years ago, and, according to the townspeople there, Miriam and Hugo, Doctors Gloria and Maria, the honey vendor next to the dental clinic, Dona Reina, and everyone who visited the clinic, they never left. On every subsequent trip, kids, parents, and practitioners, always ask about Becca. And although she was shy, quiet and unassuming, everyone, everyone, especially kids, gravitated to her- oftentimes she was surrounded, no, she was swarmed by kids in her clinic- they all just wanted to be near her. Her natural kindness, her humor, and her patience in a clinic filled with patients every day, resonated with them all. She was a light for our entire team and the Town of La Florida. And so, I offer not only our grief at the loss of Becca who we love, but the grief of a faraway community who, for their part, loved her too. She touched them all. May she know peace.”