Gayle Harkey Smith

March 24, 1939September 6, 2019

Gayle was born in Charlotte’s Presbyterian Hospital on March 24, 1939 and given the full name of Dorothy Gayle Harkey by her mother, Margaret Kanauff Morris Harkey, and her father, James Thomas Harkey. As she grew she got to know her older sibling, Jean, and her many cousins, particularly on the Morris side, since her mom was one of eight girls.

Gayle started her formal education at Thomasboro Elementary. When the Harkey household was annexed by the ever expanding Charlotte, she transferred to Enderly Park Elementary and in the seventh grade moved on to Harding High School, which also contained Junior High grades seven through nine.

In the eighth grade she met Sam Smith, then called Sammy. Gayle and Sammy were friends until late in their senior year when they became sweethearts. At the end of that year they were chosen by their classmates for the superlative of “Most Dependable” seniors. They are pic- tured in the 1957 Harding High year book leaning back to back supporting each other. Little did they know then that they would spend over sixty years together in loving support of one another.

Throughout her life Gayle loved music. She began taking piano lessons at an early age and at the age of twelve she became the assistant pianist at St. James United Methodist Church. Lat- er she became the organist at the church. Gayle also loved to sing. With her strong alto voice she sang in the choirs of each church she attended.

Those who knew Gayle best understood what a kind and gentle person she was. She would often make significant sacrifices for others. After graduating from high school she attended Pfeiffer College, but when she and Sam were married she sacrificed the remainder of her aca- demic career to take a position as a legal secretary so that Sam could continue his studies at UNC Chapel Hill.

After Sam graduated they returned to Charlotte where their first child, Sharyn Lynn, was born. Gayle loved having a daughter and also loved buying her clothes and Madam Alexander dolls, which are still packed away in the attic.

Gayle again sacrificed being close to all of her relatives when she moved to Salt Lake City as Sam pursued enhanced job opportunities. In Salt Lake they moved into a neighborhood where they were the only non-Mormon family. Sharyn didn’t understand why she could not attend Mormon Kindergarten with her new friends. But Gayle melded seamlessly into that community, making many new friends and enjoying the performances of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was in Salt Lake that Gayle and Sam had their second child, Philip Lee. As he grew older Philip took great joy in telling others that he was a Methodist born in a Catholic hospital in a Mormon city.

After living in Utah for two years the Smith family moved to Columbia, S. C. where Gayle im- mediately became active in the local Methodist church choir and cherished being close enough to her parents that she could visit with them and her cousins on weekends. Two years later the family returned to Charlotte and established their home in the Coulwood community where they stayed for thirty years. It was there that Gayle established strong roots. She served many years as P. T. A. President at the various schools that Sharyn and Philip attended. She also re- turned to St. James United Methodist Church where she became organist. By living in one place for more than two years Gayle developed long term relationships through various com- munity groups and clubs. She enjoyed garden club, book club, Silver Sneakers gym class, and especially her ‘Beach Buddies’ trips with her long time friends.

Always involved in whatever church she attended, Gayle participated in the planning and launching of a merger that created Assurance United Methodist Church, where she loved par- ticipating in the choir. At the age of eighty she was still adding her strong alto voice to the wor- ship services at Assurance.

When Gayle died on September 6th we lost an angel, a kind and gentle soul, a wonderful wife, a great mom and a loving grandmom.

Gayle was predeceded in death by her mother and father, Margaret and James Harkey, and by her sister Jean Harkey Kirby. She is survived by her husband, Sam H. Smith, her daughter Sharyn Smith, her son Philip Smith and his wife Suzette Eppley Smith. She is also survived by her granddaughter Tyler Joanna Smith and her grandson Wesley Carmichael Smith who were the joy of her life.

A memorial service for Gayle will be held Friday, September 13th at 1:00 PM at Assurance United Methodist Church located at 9700 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd. A period of visitation will precede the service at 11:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Assurance United Methodist Church Choir Fund, 9700 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd. Huntersville, NC 28078.


  • Visitation Friday, September 13, 2019
  • Funeral Service Friday, September 13, 2019
  • Graveside Service Friday, September 13, 2019


Gayle Harkey Smith

have a memory or condolence to add?

Eileen and Gil Millsaps

September 10, 2019

Dear Sam, Sharyn, Phillip, and Suzette,

Our deepest sympathy to each of you, especially Sam. We are blessed to have had your family in our lives for a long time.

Gayle was so special, so talented but always thinking of other persons not herself. Would like to know how many weddings and funerals Gayle played and shared her talent on the organ.

She will always be missed and treasured.

Phyllis Bagwell

September 10, 2019

So sorry to hear about Gayle's passing. Sammy we are thinking about you sending our prayers and love to you and family.

Tom Latimer

September 8, 2019

Sam: So sorry to hear of your loss. Please convey my heartfelt sympathy to your family. Though I had only met Gayle a time or two and did not know her well, I have great respect for so many common friends who thought very highly of her!

May God grant you peace of mind and heart, and the blessing to know that our Lord holds Gayle close.

Grace and Peace to you, my friend. Tom Latimer

David & Cindy Kowalski

September 8, 2019

Cindy and I are very saddened to learn about Gayle’s passing. We moved away in 2016 but were members of Assurance UMC for 15 years prior to leaving North Carolina. Sam and Gayle were always so friendly, kind and considerate of everyone around them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sam and the entire Smith Family during this difficult time. God Bless, David & Cindy Kowalski