James Clyde "Jimmy" Smith Sr.
May 28, 1925 – January 9, 2020
One of the last Veterans of WWII, James Clyde "Jimmy" Smith, Sr., 94 of Oak Island, NC, passed away on January 9, 2020.
Jimmy was born May 28, 1925 to the late Ernest Clyde Smith and Eunice Hoyle Smith in Albemarle, NC where he grew up. Following high school, Jimmy attended his beloved Duke University where he played on the Men’s Tennis Team and majored in business. He remained an avid Duke fan the rest of his life, especially of the men’s basketball team. You could often find him in a Duke shirt or hat any day of the week. The US Army drafted him at age 18 after his freshman year for service in WWII. He completed his undergraduate degree after the war at Catawba College and attended graduate school at the University of Virginia.
Jimmy proudly served his country from September 1943 to August 1945 in combat with the 8th Infantry Division in Normandy, arriving on its beaches in a landing craft a few days after D-Day. While disembarking from the craft, an Army photographer caught an image of Jimmy and his platoon as he glanced at the camera. This famous photo has been published many times by Time, Inc., Time–Life Books, Scholastic Press and others telling the story of the D-day invasion. He garnered 2 Purple Hearts for combat wounds in the hedgerows of Normandy. In his final combat at the Battle of the Bulge, Germans captured every member of his unit except him. He endured severe frostbite of his feet that frigid winter and was evacuated from the front lines. He later received 100% disability for his combat wounds and foot injuries. He subsequently earned a 3rd Purple Heart for the frostbite as a combat injury and this will be awarded posthumously January 25, 2020.
Following the war and completion of his education, Jimmy worked for more than 20 years for the Packaging company Rexham Industries in Charlotte, NC in Purchasing. He worked for Homelite Corporation in Charlotte for the remainder of his career.
He was active in leadership of youth sports groups while his children grew up and was always active in his churches, 3rd Presbyterian in Charlotte, Pine Valley UMC in Wilmington and Ocean View UMC in Oak Island.
In his later retirement, sharing his WWII experiences with school groups and the community became his passion. He shared amazing stories of combat, his many near misses and survival in World War II. His story has been featured by TV stations and newspapers and he was a mainstay of the Southport 4th of July Parade and the Wilmington Veteran’s Parade. He was a member of the American Legion. Wearing his WWII Purple Heart Wounded Veteran hat brought him the acquaintance and friendship of many people in stores, lunch spots and other places. Jimmy was charming and charmed as he moved through life and was loved by many.
Jimmy was predeceased by his parents; his beloved wife Martha Ann Harbinson Smith; two daughters, Christy Ann Smith Miller (Rick) of Charlotte and Amelia Alta Smith Surrency of Fairbanks, AK; and his sister, Annie Ruth Smith Kelley of Albemarle. He is survived by his daughter Cynthia Ann Smith of Carolina Beach, and his son, James C. “Jim” Smith, Jr., of Little River, SC, his grandaughters Jamie Farmer of Carolina Beach, Kady Farmer of Wilmington, Ashley Miller of Waxhaw, NC, his grandsons Joshua Miller (Emily) of Charlotte and Zackry Surrency of Atlanta, GA, a great grandson, Jackson Miller of Charlotte, and several nieces. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 3:00 pm at Ocean View United Methodist Church, 8400 E. Oak Island Dr., Oak Island, NC with a reception following the service in the Fellowship Hall.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The National Kidney Foundation, Finance Dept., 30 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016 or Ocean View United Methodist Church, 8400 E. Oak Island Drive, Oak Island, NC 2846, NC or to Lower Cape Fear LifeCare (formerly Lower Cape Fear Hospice), 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington 28401.
Online condolences may be made at www.peacocknewnamwhite.com.
Peacock - Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service, Southport, North Carolina.
Celebration of Life
Ocean View United Methodist Church
James Clyde "Jimmy" Smith Sr.
January 15, 2020
I had the honor and privilege of meeting Jimmy just a few months ago. What a fine, brave, fascinating man and American hero.
January 12, 2020
I will miss you immensely Jimmy. Your infectious smile radiated a room as soon as you walked in and you will always be my mentor on how to get all the women in the room to come over and hug you. I will miss being with you in all the parades with Martha on the back of my Harley. Rest in God’s loving arms and rest easy brother because we got the watch