COVINGTON - Carl Smith Jr., a pillar of the local business and civic communities, died Monday at age 96.
Throughout his life, Smith demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the things that mattered most to him: Family, church, his business and golf.
Smith ran his own business for nearly 70 years. The small appliance repair shop he started in his home garage evolved into Covington Electric, a staple of the downtown Square for 25 years, and then Newton Electric Supply, which he ran with the help of his son, Billy, and grandson, Chris. Newton Electric has been providing electrical and lighting supplies for residential, commercial and industrial needs for 43 years and has a branch store in McDonough.
Smith visited his business twice daily, at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., to shake hands with all the employees and customers up until about two weeks before his death.
"He came around and spoke to every one of the employees and asked how we were every day and how our families were," said Office Manager Laurie Jewell, speaking on behalf of the staff of Newton Electric. "Not a day went by that he did not come and speak to us individually. That's how concerned he was and how courteous he was."
Smith was not only dedicated to his business, but also to serving his community.
He was a former Covington City Council member and served on the board of First National Bank of Newton County for 25 years.
He served as Exalted Ruler of Elks Lodge 1806 B.P.O.E.; was past president of the Covington Kiwanis Club and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce; was a Shriner for 60 years; and was Worshipful Master of Masonic Golden Fleece Lodge No. 6. He was a recipient of the R.O. Arnold Service Award, considered to be the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a local citizen by his peers.
Smith was an active member of Covington First United Methodist Church for nearly 85 years, where he served as trustee chairman and president of the men's Bible class.
"I don't know of anybody that ever had a bad word to say about him, and he certainly had nothing bad to say about anybody," said his daughter-in-law, Irene Smith. "He was the kindest, dearest man, just a true Southern gentleman, always smiling and glad to help out."
An avid golfer, Smith won a golf tournament held in his honor at age 90 and scored a hole-in-one at age 93.
Just six weeks ago, he hit the ceremonial first golf ball at a tournament at The Oaks Course right down the middle of the green, according to grandson Chris Smith.
"Family, church, business and golf was his life. I would say his family by far was the biggest thing. He always bragged about having a great family. He would say, "We are so blessed to have our family.' He thought that until the last day," Chris Smith said.
Smith is survived by his wife of 75 years, Lorene; son and daughter-in-law Billy and Irene Smith; granddaughter Fleeta Baggett; grandson Chris and wife Gidget; and great-granddaughters Madelyn Baggett and Ashley and Kristi Rene Smith.
The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. today at Covington First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Don Martin and the Rev. Royesse Stowe officiating. A private interment will follow.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church of Covington.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.