Joel Perry Smith, Jr., M.D.
July 30, 1935 – September 9, 2021
Joel Perry Smith, Jr. M.D., passed into the arms of Jesus on September 9, 2021. He was born on July 30, 1935 in LaGrange, Georgia to Joel Perry Smith, Sr., M.D. and Ellen Janet (“June”) Goforth Smith.
Dr. Smith graduated from Druid Hills High School in 1953, where he was a multi-sport athlete and set tri-state (GA/AL/FL) track records, successfully competing in sprints, hurdles and pole vaulting. He completed his undergraduate course work at Mercer University in 1956 and then went on to graduate from the Medical College of Georgia in 1960. He completed residencies in general surgery and otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University. While working in the hospital ER, he met a nurse, Carolyn Williams, who became his beloved wife in 1965 in Pinehurst, NC. Dr. Smith entered the US Air Force as Captain and Chief of the Department of Otolaryngology at the US Strategic Air Command, MacDill AFB, in Tampa, FL.
Dr. and Mrs. Smith moved to Atlanta in 1967 and he began a private medical/surgical practice as a board-certified otolaryngologist and maxillofacial surgeon, providing compassionate care to thousands of patients over his forty-year career. His father, (Dr. Joel P. Smith, Sr.) was an EENT (eye, ear, nose and throat) and the two doctors enjoyed the blessings of partnering together in the practice. Dr. Smith had a profoundly positive impact on the region’s healthcare community and in the ENT field. He held medical staff privileges and cared for patients in hospitals throughout the city, including: Georgia Baptist Hospital, Piedmont Hospital, Egleston Hospital, West Paces Ferry Hospital, Metropolitan Hospital and Emory University Midtown (then known as Crawford Long Hospital). He was a founding member of the Georgia Society of Otolaryngology. Throughout his career, he was recognized many times by local, state and national medical associations and served in leadership positions at several Atlanta hospitals, which included appointments in leadership roles as Chief of Surgery, Chairman of the Medical Staff and as an officer of his hospital’s Board of Governors.
Recognizing the need for additional hospital beds and to reduce patients’ waiting time for surgical services, Dr. Smith became a principal founder of a new physician-owned hospital named Doctors Memorial Hospital (later becoming part of Emory University Midtown). Following their acquisition of the Life of Georgia insurance building – a midtown Atlanta fixture since 1930 – the physician partners converted it into a state-of-the-art hospital, located at the corner of West Peachtree Street and Linden Avenue. Dr. Smith led the newly formed hospital on a mission dedicated to providing exceptional care and service to patients and their families. Every detail was developed to support that patient-centered mission – right down to being the city’s first hospital to have each patient room outfitted with color TVs and fully electronic beds (rather than manual crank beds).
In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Smith performed cutting-edge research in the emerging ENT specialty, creating new surgical procedures and developing early advancements for minimally invasive endoscopic procedures, laser utilization and microsurgery. He was published in NIH sponsored research on cranial nerves. He also published research findings in numerous publications related to orbital fractures, neck injuries, hearing loss and diseases affecting the head and neck. Although Dr. Smith participated in many advancements in his field and was exceptionally trained, he firmly believed that God ultimately is the Healer and the Great Physician. He often was remembered as the “Praying Doctor,” because he prayed for each and every patient before surgery. Upon his retirement, the Georgia Society of Otolaryngology recognized him with the Lester Brown Lifetime Achievement Award for his many contributions to the ENT field.
In addition to his ENT research and practice, Dr. Smith was patriotic and passionate about serving his community. He actively engaged in civic responsibilities in Atlanta. He served for many years as a member/officer on the Board of the Metropolitan Atlanta Crime Commission. The mayor of Atlanta recognized Dr. Smith as a citizen leader for his many outstanding contributions. During the course of his research, he developed a studied interest in the psychological causes of physical illness and lectured in a number of settings about the early research on stress and its effect on cardiac and other physical disease pathology. He developed a course related to the pathophysiology of stress on law enforcement officers and taught cadet classes at the Atlanta Police Academy for many years. Additionally, he served as a Major in the Georgia State Defense Force for Homeland Security.
Over the course of his lifetime, Dr. Smith, was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed a number of sporting activities. Returning to his early days as a competitive runner, he continued to run in 10K and half marathons for many years. He enjoyed competing with professional and law enforcement marksmen and was designated among the elite ranks of the state’s top sharpshooters in Georgia’s ‘Governor’s Twenty’ competition.
Everyone who knew Dr. Smith regarded him as gentle, kind, compassionate and intelligent. His life was characterized by his unfailing devotion to serving others in a way that brought honor to his faith, family and country. Although successful and accomplished by many measures, he most treasured the family with which he was blessed. His love of family was surpassed only by his personal relationship with, and devotion to, his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Dr. Smith was a devout Christian and his faith was the focal point of his life. Dr. and Mrs. Smith were active members of Church of the Apostles for over 30 years. He leaves a legacy of love for God and family.
Dr. Smith is survived by Carolyn Williams Smith, his wife of 56 years, his children, Joel Smith, III (Shae), Preston Smith (Liz), Elizabeth Carroll (Kells) and his thirteen grandchildren, Joel IV, Taylor, Hunter, Preston, Jr., Christi, Jordan, Marshall, Abigail, Lydia, Brayden, Carson, David and Grace, along with his sisters Lynda Carter and Ellen Marks. He is preceded in death by his parents Joel, Sr. and June and his brother Michael.
The Smith family will receive visitors at H.M. Patterson and Son – Arlington Chapel (Sandy Springs) from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, September 19th. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, September 20th at Church of the Apostles, followed by interment at Hillview Cemetery, LaGrange, GA at 3:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent in Dr. Joel Smith’s name to Church of the Apostles, 3585 Northside Parkway, NW Atlanta, GA 30327.
- Dr. Smith is survived by Carolyn Williams Smith, his wife of 56 years, his children, Joel Smith, III (Shae), Preston Smith (Liz), Elizabeth Carroll (Kells) and his thirteen grandchildren, Joel IV, Taylor, Hunter, Preston, Jr., Christi, Jordan, Marshall, Abigail, Lydia, Brayden, Carson, David and Grace, along with his sisters Lynda Carter and Ellen Marks. He is preceded in death by his parents Joel, Sr. and June and his brother Michael.
- SEVEN FAMILY, Active
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
Joel Perry Smith, Jr., M.D.
September 19, 2021
DOCTOR SMITH WAS MY EAR DOCTOR FOR MANY YEARS AFTER HIS DAD MY ORIGINAL EAR DOCTOR DIED.THEY WERE BOTH GREAT MEN. I LOVED THEM BOTH.I WILL ALWAYS LOVE THEM.THEY WERE A LIFE SAVER TO ME
September 13, 2021
To the family of Dr. Joel P. Smith, Jr. : I didn't know Dr. Smith but I may have been acquainted with his son, Joel III, from when I was employed at a federal court in Atlanta. Regardless whether or not he is the Joel I knew, please know the family has my sympathy and prayers during this time of loss and deep sadness. Joel III, if you are the Joel who was employed at the court, please know I think of you often when I'm reflecting upon my years at the court and those with whom I became acquainted. I recall the excellent qualities you possessed, but what I remember best is a conversation we had concerning our mutual Christian faith. It is that discussion that, rightly or wrongly, caused me to associate you with Dr. Joel Smith, Jr. May God be with you and the family is my prayer. Sincerely yours, Jerry Evans