Elbert Eugene “Gene” Smith, Sr. slipped from this world into the next during his sleep on Sunday, July 9, 2023, ending a life that he would have said had been well-lived and filled with lots of people who loved him, including his third wife, Wilma Jolene Hayes Smith, who preceded him in death by mere months.
Gene’s last days may have been spent in a care facility instead of his long-term residence with his wife, but he was blessed with the memories of her that he had, along with the care that he received from Jolene’s daughter, Donna Ereddia, who faithfully served him during that time, as almost all of Gene’s other family members, unfortunately, lived far afield in other cities and states.
God broke the mold when Gene was born to the late Ulysses Smith and Gladys Singleton Smith on September, 4, 1940. As the eldest son raised on an extensive acreage farm, Gene and his siblings learned the value of hard work and frugal-living. These traits served Gene well in his later years, when he and his wife Jolene provided affordable housing in their mobile home park for many people throughout their long marriage, forging relationships with their tenants as they practiced their Christian heritage.
Gene’s siblings can attest to this, with his sister Pat remembering how he came to know the Lord during a tent revival meeting in which she was singing “I Have a Mansion Over the Hilltop.” Gene walked easily to the altar in those days as his younger sister sang, and she knows that despite his severe arthritis in his aging body on earth, he is easily walking heaven’s streets of gold today.
During Gene’s twilight years, his penchant for saving a buck became even more well-known than his brother-in- law Lamar’s medical prowess, because during a family gathering early in his and Jolene’s marriage, when they were introducing their adult children over a meal, Gene was attempting to get out the last dregs out of a ketchup bottle instead of just opening a new one, insisting he had to get “the last ten cent’s worth,” to which Jolene’s only son Greg Epple replied: “Gene, I’ll give you the ten cents.”
Gene’s frugality was shared by his wife Jolene, resulting in the couple each leaving a good legacy behind for their respective families, which in Gene’s case included two surviving adult daughters by his first wife, Bobbie: Jan Radell Smith Morris, the eldest, of Florida, and Lesia Mae Smith Godfrey Barlow (Mike), of Georgia. Gene was preceded in death by his only son by his first wife: Elbert Eugene “Butch” Smith, Jr. (Dawn) of Georgia, and his youngest daughter Rebecca “Becky” Kaye Smith of Georgia, both tragically killed decades ago.
Gene’s grandchildren, whom he adored, include Jan’s daughter Constance Kaye Morris of Florida; Lesia’s son Brandon Lane Godfrey (Angie) of Georgia; and, Elbert Eugene “Butch” Smith Jr.’s three daughters: Megan, Emily and Holly, all of Georgia. In addition, Gene was blessed with several great grandchildren from his special grandson Brandon: Gage, Zoe and Jade Godfrey, as well as a special granddaughter from his only son “Butch”: Reagan Smith, all of Georgia.
Gene’s family also consists of two much-loved sisters who survived him: Patricia “Pat” Smith (Lamar Hawkins) and Pamela “Pam” Cochran, both of Florida, as well as one very special younger brother, Jerry Allen Smith, Sr., and his special wife Millie of Georgia, who are now all left with decades of love and fond memories of Gene. Gene’s sense of fun and adventure lives on in those who survived him, including his many precious and loved nieces and nephews, which include Gene’s sister Pat’s three adult children—Bruce Hawkins of North Carolina, David Hawkins, Jr. (Sandra), of Georgia, and their three adult children Alexandria Hawkins (Jacob Fairbaim), of Texas; David Hawkins III (Amy), of Delaware; and Victoria Hawkins, of Georgia; and, Leta Hawkins (Dale Roznowski), and their two children Xavier Roznowski (Sidonne), and Xena Roznowsk.
Gene’s nieces and nephews also include those from his beloved brother Jerry Allen Smith Sr., such as his eldest Jerry Allen Smith, Jr. (Tyra)—and their children Levi and Annmarie Smith of Georgia; and, Christopher Blake Smith (Lamanda)—and their two children Chandler and Carson, also of Georgia.
Gene’s sister Pamela’s children round out the blessing in the way of nieces and nephews: Cathaleen Miller (John)
—and their children Isaiah and Michael Miller, of Florida; Monty Sandford—and his son Brandon Sanford (Olivia), and their children Coby and Ocoe Sanford, of Georgia; as well as Charles Sanford, Jr. (Bunny)—and his precious daughter Jasmine, of Georgia.
In addition, Gene is also survived by various cousins and other beloved relatives and friends, along with his late wife’s children and extended family, which includes Donna Ereddia (Joe) and Greg Epple (Audrey), both of Byron, Georgia, and Janet Faglie (Hank) of Ohio, as well as Jolene’s grandchildren Zoe Edingfield, Spencer Ereddia (Tina), Pierce Ereddia, Trey Faglie and Adam Faglie.
The family invite all to come and pay their respects to Gene’s memory and share your stories of how he may have impacted your life during the visitation hour for family and friends between 1-2 p.m. on Sunday, July 16, 2023 at McCullough Funeral Home, located at 417 S. Houston Lake Road in Warner Robbins, Georgia. The Chapel services will begin at 2 p.m., and flowers are welcome, but not expected.
For friends unable to attend at this time, the service will be streamed live via the McCullough Funeral Home Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mcculloughfuneralhome/live/To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Elbert Eugene "Gene" Smith, Sr., please visit our flower store.
Sunday, July 16, 2023
1:00 - 2:00pm (Eastern time)
McCullough Funeral Home
Sunday, July 16, 2023
Starts at 2:00pm (Eastern time)
Chapel of McCullough Funeral Home