A Life Lived: Paul Smith loved his country, his family, and church

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Paul Howard Smith was just an ordinary man to most, but he had some traits worth noting. Paul, who died Jan. 12 at the age of 74, was a hard worker, who always provided for his family, and was a good handyman. “He could fix anything,” said his wife, Jo Ann.

She and Paul had been married 55 years when he died.

He grew up in the Dividing Ridge community, and lived there most of his life, and was one of four children of John H. and Ruby Smith. Paul attended Hampton High School, where he enjoyed playing basketball.

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Paul was a veteran, having served in the United States Army and the Tennessee National Guard during the Vietnam era.

He retired from Watauga Industries, but had driven a tractor-trailer, was a mechanic and machinist. “He worked on lawn mowers, heat pumps, etc. He was a jack of all trades,” said Jo Ann.

Paul was the father of two sons, Anthony, who died at the age of 12 of a heart condition, and Brian, who blessed his father and mother with two special granddaughters, Andrea and Taylor, and a grandson, Jacob. They also have two other granddaughters, Katie and Courtney.

Paul was an outdoorsman. He especially enjoyed the mountains, and boating and fishing on Watauga Lake. “He had a pontoon boat, which he used for fishing. Sometimes, we would just go picnicking at the lake. Other times he just enjoyed taking a walk in the mountains. He enjoyed the outdoors,” Jo Ann shared.

In his later years, he enjoyed watching western shows on TV — Gunsmoke, Big Valley and the likes. He at one time was a race car fan, with Dale Earnhardt Sr. his favorite driver.

“He was a kind, easy-going fellow, who enjoyed helping and talking to older people. As long as he was able, he went to church, and then he made sure that I went — Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. He would tell me, ‘you must go for both of us,’” said Jo Ann.

She also described her husband as a very patriotic person, who loved not only his family and his friends, but his country. For sure, he was a fan of President Trump.

Paul often wrote notes to his wife, and among her treasured possessions is a piece he wrote in 1975 titled: What America Means To Me.

The essay reads: “When I was a young boy growing up on a farm, I helped my father raise different crops. We would plow the fields and plant the seeds. As the plants began to grow, my father would look out over the fields, and then he would tell how God had blessed us with a fine crop. I never gave much thought about it at the time, but, now that I am older I know what my father was telling me.

“People seldom think of the wonderful things we have here in America. The ground, the sun, and the rain that provides the food for us to eat. The clean air we breathe, the freedom to do as we want as long as we don’t harm others’ freedom. And, most of all, a true and loving God to watch over us, and who has provided us a way to be saved from our sins and spend eternal life with Him, where there’s no sickness, pain, or sorrow. If people would only stop and look around them and see the wonderful things that I see, they would understand what my father was talking about, and what America means to me.”

One could say that Paul Howard Smith was blessed, and he knew where his blessings came from.