Birth Date: 10/25/1941
Deceased Date: 12/13/2019
Rebecca M. Ziady of Smithfield, NC, passed away December 13th following a prolonged illness. Born in 1941, she was the oldest child of Daniel and Helen Sugg Monroe of Smithfield. Raised as a tree-climbing, baseball-throwing, barefoot tomboy, she was known by friends and family as Becky. During childhood, her father’s work as a supervisor on large construction projects led Becky and her family to relocate periodically, from Hillsborough in the central part of the state to Kinston and Beaufort down east. It was in Beaufort that Becky attended high school and leveraged her athletic ability to play basketball and her English proficiency to serve as a class reporter and literary staff member for the yearbook. It was also in Beaufort that Becky met local boy John “Jack” Stewart, with whom she said her first marriage vows and started a family. Becky and Jack made a career move to Colorado, but Becky soon realized she needed to be closer to family, warmer weather, and the ocean, so she headed home.
Becky raised two sons by herself during a time when a single mother needed an iron will to succeed. Becky found opportunity in the field of medicine, working as a doctor’s assistant and then satisfying her need to save lives by becoming a volunteer emergency medical technician for the Smithfield Rescue Squad. She advanced from there to become a highly accomplished paramedic with the Wake County Emergency Medical Services. During this time, Becky met her second husband, her soul mate, Phillip Ziady of Brogden, NC. Becky and Phil were inseparable for 43 years.
Five feet tall on her best day, Becky was a dynamic, hands-on, force of nature. She had the quick mind and commanding presence of a battlefield general and the flawless language skills of an English teacher. She frequently wrote pointed messages to her elected officials, whether in praise or criticism, and sent flowers to those in DC who needed an ally. When showing her support for the safe return of her son and other American troops during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, Becky made national news as she spearheaded the drive to hang a yellow ribbon on the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.
Becky loved the theater, so she acted, at one point professionally. She also organized, and was instrumental in founding the Neuse Little Theatre, a still-thriving local group in Smithfield. Becky loved literature, so she read through the night. She loved to sing, and played piano beautifully with no need for sheet music. She loved the arts, so she promoted them through her work with the North Carolina Arts Council, the Johnston County Arts Council, and the Johnston County artist-in-residence program.
When Becky wasn’t promoting others’ works, she created her own. She especially liked working with her hands. She made elegant mobiles from carefully heated and hand-shaped plexiglass. She spent countless hours caressing wet clay and kicking a potter’s wheel to produce pottery one would be equally proud to eat or drink from or simply to display. She designed and printed silk screen shirts. She made candles. She crafted works of art from pieces of nature, including seashells, driftwood, pressed flowers, and herbs. Becky was a good witch, the owner of Hatteras Harvest, who could teach a master class in the artistic or medicinal use of herbs.
Becky loved her family heritage, and looked forward to the annual pilgrimage to historic Longstreet Church, nestled in the trees on the Fort Bragg military base, to attend the Monroe family reunion. Becky loved nature, and would spread fall leaves throughout her home to add color and character during the holidays. She loved the holidays, and would fill the house with music. Becky loved the ocean, and cherished her years on the Outer Banks. She especially loved sunrises and sunsets over the water, and was always happiest walking along the water’s edge, bare feet covered in surf, face bathed in sea breeze and sunlight, eyes searching for shells. A free thinker and a free spirit, Becky was a loving wife, mother, and friend who would walk through fire to protect the ones she loved. She has no equal in this life or the next.
Ms. Ziady is survived by her husband, Phillip Ziady of Smithfield; son John Stewart, Jr., of Houston, TX; son James “Jay” Stewart, daughter-in-law Allison, and granddaughter Alexia of Raleigh; brother Burton “Burt” Monroe and sister-in-law Jan of Ithaca, NY; niece Jaime Monroe Paschall of Zebulon; nieces Lauren Ryan and Amanda Monroe of Chapel Hill; and many beloved grandnieces, grandnephews, in-laws, and cousins. In accordance with her wishes, there will be no funeral service, only a private celebration of her life to be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation or to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at parrishfh.com.