Charles L. Smith passed to his Heavenly Home on Feb. 5, 2018. Charles was born in Wayne County on Feb. 12, 1926 to parents Hosea and Janie Smith. Charles was blessed with a long life, not always rosy, but by far a good life.
Visitation will occur at Memory Chapel Funeral Home from 9-11 a.m. Friday. A celebration of homecoming will follow in the chapel. Interment will be at Mill Creek Cemetery. Officiating ministers will be Paul Brashier, interim pastor of Sandersville Baptist Church, and Jimmy Holder, pastor of Florence Congregational Methodist Church.
Charles was a veteran of World War II, serving in the Navy in the Philippines and in the South Pacific. He received an honorable discharge in 1946 and returned to Mississippi.
He furthered his education at Laurel Business College and attended classes at the Ole Miss extension in Jones County.
He worked for Fine Brothers-Matison for 30 years and was a store manager for 22 of those years. In 1976, he left Fine Brothers-Matison to become a traveling sales rep for the next 15 years.
Charles served as a volunteer firefighter for 22 years. He was the first president of the Sandersville-Jones County Volunteer Fire Department and was the first president of the county-wide fire department council. Under his leadership, the new fire department grew from seven to 15 units, and plans were made to add the necessary items to bring the county to a Class 8 rating. The success of those plans was made possible with a lot of hard work by many volunteers.
He also served for 22 years as a volunteer with the Red Cross. He took classes over the years that qualified him for many positions with that organization.
Charles met Vera “Bebbie” Lightsey, the love of his life, in 1944, and they were married after he returned from the war in 1946. Bebbie was a highly successful manager of Laurel Furniture Store, which she later bought and owned until her health required her to sell the business. They were married for 62 years until Bebbie’s death on April 24, 2008. They were both members of Sandersville Baptist Church.
Charles was preceded in death by his parents Hosea and Janie Smith; his brothers James W. Smith and Robert O’Neal Smith; James’ wife Erma Smith; and his sister Sissy, also known as Lois Myrle Crocker.
He is survived by three children, Deanna Smith Beam (husband John), Brenda Smith Sullivan (husband John) and Donald Smith (wife Lisa); six grandchildren, Ken Beam, Natalie Beam Holsten, Jonathan Beam, Leslie Smith Zornes, Charles Daniel Smith and Kate Sullivan Hanson; 11 great-grandchildren, Carter, Grace, Luke, Zoe, Seth, Noah, Annalee, Hunter, Jace, Daniel and Emma Kate; sister Maxine Smith Holifield and brother-in-law Lavon Holifield; finally, he is survived by many nieces and nephews who he loved dearly and who loved him. He was known as Uncle Charles by many close relatives.
Pallbearers will be Ken Beam, Jonathan Beam, Charles Daniel Smith, Zachary Moss, Jared Sellers and Ryan Windham. Honorary pallbearer will be Gary Crocker.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Christian Food Mission of 506 Chantilly St., Laurel, MS 39440 or Missionary Aviation Fellowship of P.O. Box 47, Nampa, ID 83653.
To sign the online guestbook, visit www.memorychapellaurel.com.