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James D. "Jimmy" Smith

• Jun 28, 2018 at 10:23 AM

ELIZABETHTON - James D. “Jimmy” Smith, 85, Elizabethton, died peacefully at his home, June 22nd.

His passing was sudden and unexpected, as he had been in apparent good health and good spirits, having talked on the phone with family members just that week.

Jimmy was born at Boone’s Creek, near Jonesborough, TN, on November 22, 1932. His father, Charles Oliver Smith, was a veteran of WWI, and his mother, Ruby Maston, a granddaughter of George Maston, who was a local Civil War veteran. In 1940, Jimmy’s family moved to the Maston farm, located on Toll Branch Road, near Milligan College. Both Jimmy, and his younger brother Charlie “Bobby” Smith, came of age at this home. His talents with mechanics and drawing were evident and he put them to good use. Jimmy attended Happy Valley High School, graduating in 1951, then enlisted in the US Navy, serving for four years. At the cease-fire of the Korean War, Jimmy’s ship, USS Caperton, went with the fleet from Narragansett Bay, RI to stand guard offshore from Korea. The Caperton also visited ports in Japan, Hawaii, Panama, and many other foreign locations.

Following discharge from Navy service, Jimmy married the love of his life, Patsy Peoples, in Elizabethton, in 1956. The Peoples family, especially Patsy’s father Lon Peoples, doted on him. Jimmy entered ETSU (East Tennessee State College) on the G.I. Bill, and following graduation, started his career as a draftsman and designer in the aircraft engine industry. He worked at Sperry Corp. in Bristol, Avco-Lycoming in Charleston, SC, and Pratt-Whitney Corp. in Florida. Jimmy’s career credits include designs for military jet aircraft engines, and he remembered trips to Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, to view tests for the engines and equipment. Following retirement, Jimmy and Patsy lived in Deland, Florida and later returned home to Elizabethton, to their pretty little home by the Watauga River.

Jimmy and his wife, Patsy, were together for 62 years, having met while in high school, before they were married. They had two sons, Blake, of Elizabethton, and David, who died unexpectedly in 2014. During their years in Florida, Jimmy and Patsy cherished much time with their grandsons, Brennen and Nathan. A third grandson, Dylan, arrived later on. All of Jimmy’s grandsons share his talents in mechanics, drawing, precision drafting, and tinkering. In recent years, Jimmy continued to spend hours of his time in house projects and gardening, keeping his home in ship-shape order, and putting out winter bird feeders and hummingbird feeders. While Patsy was in good health, they enjoyed ocean cruises together. A cruise and tour to Scandinavia was a special favorite of theirs. After Patsy’s passing, Jimmy renewed an acquaintance with Betty Smith of Elizabethton, a family friend who also was widowed and shared many experiences in common with him; they spent many hours of supportive companionship together to mutual benefit.

Jimmy is survived by one brother, Charles “Bobby” Smith (wife, Claudia) of Ithaca, NY. His surviving son, Blake Smith, of Elizabethton, and three grandsons, Brennen (wife, Lindsey), Nathan, and Dylan Smith of Florida, also survive him, along with one great-grandson Curren James Smith. Several nieces and nephews, including nieces Carola Walker (husband, Gary) and Cathy McKeehan (husband, Edwin). Jimmy’s warm companion of recent years, Betty Smith, also survives him, as does his life-long friend Bob McGee.

A Memorial service will be held in Memorial Funeral Chapel, Elizabethton, TN, on Friday, June 29, 2018 at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Jacob Guinn officiating. Music will be provided by Mr. David Arney. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until service time. Military Honors will be provided by the Carter County Honor Guard. Instead of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the funeral home. Interment will be at Happy Valley Memorial Park at a later date.

Condolences may be sent to the family on our web-site: www.memorialfcelizabethton.com 

Memorial Funeral Chapel is serving the Smith Family

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