John “Johnnie” Gerald Smith ’54

John “Johnnie” Gerald Smith ’54, of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., died April 18 as a result of an accident. A native of Harnett County, he was the son of the late Edgar Solomon and Estelle Byrd Smith. Smith was preceded in death by two brothers, Theodore and William Harold Smith ’52. He graduated from Davidson with a bachelor of science degree in business. He married Ola Kelly Avent of Fuquay-Varina on Aug. 27, 1955. He served as a lieutenant at Fort Benning, Ga. He was also athletic director of the Seventh Infantry. While in service at Fort Benning, he trained six cycles of basic trainees and attained the ranking of first lieutenant. He always loved baseball and was a baseball pitcher in high school, college, and pro for the Baltimore Orioles. He played one summer with the Fayetteville Highlanders in the Class B Carolina League. He was a merchandise manager for Varina Wholesale and the Wickes Corporation. After working for several years with the company located in Fuquay-Varina, he moved to Greenville, S.C., and later to Saginaw, Mich. After 20 years with Wickes, he returned to Fuquay-Varina, where he went into business for himself as a manufacturers’ representative and formed the company John G. Smith and Associates. He represented 15 separate companies in the Southeast U.S. and sold his company in 1998. After 22 years, he retired and enjoyed fishing, hunting, and playing golf. He was a former member of the Flat Branch Presbyterian Church and served as chairman of the finance committee for building the new church. He later became a member of Christian Light Christian Church, where he had served as a Sunday school teacher for the men’s class, choir member, and deacon since 1978. Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Ola Kelly Avent Smith, 125 River Rd., Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526; son, Randy Gerald Smith (Susan Moore Smith); daughter, Kelly Smith Bain (Alton “Al” Deems Bain); sister, Ann Funderburk (Jim); sister-in-law, Monteen B. Smith; five grandchildren, Jessica Vickers, Morgan Smith, Andrew Smith, Drew Bain, and Daniel Bain.