Lifelong Rhea County native and prominent businessman passes away.
James Franklin Smith, 76, passed away on Friday, April 29, 2017 at Erlanger Medical Center. Jim was born May 19, 1940 in Rhea County to the late Abel Judge Smith and France Ruth (Underwood) Smith and second father, James Harvey Locke. He was preceded in death by his wife, Wanda (Romines) Smith of whom he was married to for 38 years.
Survivors include his two daughters Jamie (Anthony) Ridley and Angie (Justin) Smith, his brother Thomas J. Smith (Phyllis), three adoring grandchildren Mac Smith, James Smith, and Lauren Ridley, and his Aunt, Mrs. Nyla Rose (Underwood) Cauthen Marsh, several cousins, nieces, nephews, and cherished family friends.
Jim was a lifelong resident of Rhea County, a graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan, ’62, graduating with a degree in Accounting. He was a 50 year member of Dayton Masonic Lodge #512 F&AM and the Alhambra Shrine. Jim held many jobs, including a teacher/principal in the Rhea County School system, co-owner of Smith-Clayton Dodge from 1970-1994, and being a Vice-President at Robinson Mfg. Co. from 1972 until his retirement in 2012. During his career at Robinson Manufacturing, Jim along with T. Jack Robinson worked the NY Times crossword puzzle daily. Their partnership helped lead the company and pioneer the woven textile and apparel manufacturing industry by converting raw textile material into printed fabric and later garments for the apparel industry.
Jim will be remembered first for his unconditional love for his family and friends. He will also be remembered for his love of fast cars, car racing, as well as welding and working outdoors on the farm where he was raised. Recently featured in the April 2017 edition of Hot Rod magazine for the dragster he built and raced in the 60’s, Jim had an eye for fabrication and a tenacious work ethic which led him to design and build, working with metals and wood. He loved learning and teaching others; one may not have always understood his ways or methods but he was good at getting you to think about problems and solutions in different ways. He was a mentor to so many people and his love for charity and quiet charitableness to those individuals and organizations were a cornerstone to his character. He also loved listening and dancing to good music, shooting the breeze with friends in the back of Smith-Clayton, the Elks Lodge of Cleveland, or Kenny’s Bar and Grill, and a good cold Pabst Blue Ribbon.
In lieu of flowers, please support the charities he loved; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 504 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, the Shriners Hospital for Children, c/o Alhambra Shriners, 1000 Alhambra Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37421.
The family will receive friends Tuesday, May 2, 2017, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Coulter-Garrison Funeral Home with funeral services beginning at 6 p.m., with Rev. Jimmy Jewell officiating. Graveside services will be held at Rhea Memory Gardens on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 a.m.
Donations can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Shriners Hospitals for Children, or to the Rhea County Toys for Tots program.