James Warren “Jimmy” Smith passed away on August 2, 2019 after a battle with cancer. Jimmy was born on August 4, 1937 and spent his early years in Greene County before moving with his family to their Craven County farm. After his father suffered a debilitating stroke in the 1940s, Jimmy embraced the responsibility of managing his family’s farm and supporting his mother. Farming remained his primary occupation for the rest of his life.
Despite the demands of full-time farming, Jimmy lived a life of exemplary public service, giving opportunities to others that he did not enjoy in his own adolescence. He served for twenty-two years on the Craven County Board of Education and was its chairman for eight years. He also served a four-year term on the North Carolina School Boards Association. James W. Smith Elementary School in western Craven County was so-named in honor of his passionate advocacy for the students of the rural reaches of the county.
Jimmy was a charter member of the Fort Barnwell Volunteer Fire Department and the Fort Barnwell Volunteer Rescue Squad; he participated in the rescue squad for eight years and remained active in the fire department until his death. At the time of his death, he was serving as a Craven County Fire Commissioner for Township 3. For the past eight years, he has also served on the Craven County Board of Equalization and Review. He was a dedicated member of Lane’s Chapel UMC throughout the entirety of his adult life, teaching his beloved Sunday School class for over 50 years. He was also a member and Past Master of Ionic Lodge #583 in Cove City.
Jimmy is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Betty Taylor Smith. He is also survived by his daughter, Jane Smith Croom; her husband, William Felix Croom III; and their son, Austin Felix Croom; although his family was small, he enjoyed an extended family of many special friends throughout his life. Flowers are welcome, or donations may be made to a charity of one’s choice. Some of Jimmy’s favorites include Lane’s Chapel UMC, Ft. Barnwell Vol. Fire Dept., and the Shriners Hospitals for Children. A visitation will be held at Garner Funeral Home in Kinston on Sunday, August 4, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and at other times at the home. The funeral will be held at Lane’s Chapel UMC on Monday, August 5, at 11:00 a.m. with Pastor David Harrington and Pastor Bryan Ipock officiation. Burial will be held follow the funeral service at Lane’s Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery.
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