In Memory

Robert (Bobby) Smith

Jean Watts Pace

Bob Smith died November 27, 1999 in Neshoba County, Mississippi in a helicopter accident. He was a Houston Helicopter, Inc. pilot and a Vietnam War US Air Force veteran. He was survived by his wife, Pat Smith, and his mother, Aileen Pace Smith Nunnally, both of Jasper. Portions of the memorial service for Bob is as follows:

God's Other Sheep (The Rev. Louise M. Row, First Presbyterian Church, Jasper)

It has been an interesting week. As I have listened to Bob's family and friends over the past few days, I have heard some remarkable stories--some funny, some unbelievable, and some which I definitely could not repeat from the pulpit.

Many of you said that you hoped I would not do a eulogy that would make Bob sound like some kind of saint. He was an adorable little boy," Pat Smith said, "but as an adult, everybody knew him to be a tough old curmudgeon, and it would be hypocritical to try to make him into anything else."

On the other hand, it was obvious that Bob was dearly loved by his family and friends. Of course he belonged to the large Smith-Pace fold, and he was quite proud of that fact.

Personally, I get along best with well-behaved sheep who stay within the fold, who do what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it. But life would certainly be dull without those "other sheep," don't you think? We need the bluntness of those "other sheep" from time to time- to save us from hypococrisy. We need their willingness to live on the edge--to show life's possibilities, to show us what humans can achieve if they push the envelope. And, after all, sheep that are too docile and well-behaved are not much good at fighting wars or fighting forest fires or flying rescue missions in the midst of dense fog. For that sort of work we need our maverick sheep, our unruly, devil-take-the-hindmost "other sheep."

According to his family, there was generosity and even kindness underneath the roughness of Bob Smith. He was fiercely loyal to his friends, but Bob kept his soft side hidden for the most part.

For example, many of you said that Bob, like W. C. Fields, hated children and small animals, and that was the image he liked to put forward. But something about what he was and what he did made some children love him. He and his first wife, Joanne lived near Jim and Jean Pace when their three girls were growing up. Bob and Joanne had no children of their own, and so sort of adopted Dianne, Jennifer and Katy. Joanne did the nurturing stuff; Bob did the teasing stuff--threatened to flush Katy's teddy bear down the drain--that kind of thing.

The children loved Joanne dearly, and they also seemed to know that Bob's bark was worse than his bite, that his teasing indicated affection. When Joanne died, the girls were heartbroken and, surprisingly, it was tough old Bob who took time to comfort them, even taking little Katy aside and telling her that he wanted her to have a special pin that Joanne had frequently worn. The pin and the memory of Bob's gentleness remain as treasure for Katy. Maybe Bob did hate kids and small animals, in the abstract; he loved his little cousins.

Note: there was much more to this, but you that knew Bob will recognize him in these excerpts from his memorial. (Submitted by Jean Watts Pace.)