Graham Fennel Smith ’77

Graham Fennel Smith was the funniest man east of the Mississippi.

Born March 7, 1955, fathered and mothered by C. Shaw and Nancy Smith of Davidson, N.C., he died unexpectedly on November 1 of a heart attack.

Graham is survived by his wife of 29 years, Audrey M. Brown, siblings Shaw Smith (Ann Haley) of Davidson, Curtis Smith (Lynne Smith) of Dallas, Nancy Gardner of Davidson, and Mary Mig McEntire (Robert McEntire) of Greensboro, sister-in-law Carla Pritchard (Ken Pritchard) of Chattanooga, nieces and nephews Tate Gardner, Beth Helfrich, Curtis Gardner, Jason Radcliffe, Blake Radcliffe, Luke Smith, Bryan McEntire, Benjamin McEntire, Cameron Pritchard, Adelle Pritchard, and many great nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Graham was a graduate of North Mecklenburg H.S., BA Davidson College, MFA Hilberry Classic Theatre. Growing up, he toured the US and Europe with his father’s family-vaudeville-magic show from 1961-1973. He was in over 300 plays, 12 films, and 60 commercials.

As a youth, Graham, known as “Pud” in the family and as the fourth child in a brood of five, required more than his fair share of parental upbringing.  He delighted in being a mischievous, saucy jaywalker.  In junior high, he once refused to write an essay–folklore has it dealing with evolution–claiming to his teacher, “I’m evangelical, and the topic is against my beliefs.”  Graham, however, was a dyed-in-the-wool Presbyterian, twice on Sunday.  

In high school, Mrs. Mott, the esteemed English teacher, left the room with the exhortation “to please read quietly.”  With her departure, Graham promptly stood up, organized a singing round with each row of classmates, and was standing on her desk directing the harmonies when she returned.  And in graduate school when he procrastinated endlessly and cavalierly on a major paper, it required tearful beseeching of Mom and the intervention of four siblings to get him to act.  Thankfully, he did. 

Later in life, the only person who kept him from procrastinating was the best stage manager and home manager possible, his wife Audrey. He was a dog lover and took great delight in the golden retrievers that owned him-Tucker, Henry, Slim, and Early, his latest project.

Besides his delightful waywardness, other traits abound.  Tenacious with a terrier personality, Graham was all-or-nothing; it was either lights on or lights off, analogous to how he lived and died.  He was exacting, demanding of himself as an actor or backyard carpenter. Graham was clean-living, disciplined, and loving: He “hung the moon,” according to his mother-in-law, because “I appreciate the way he treats my daughter.” 

He was Southern in the right kind of way, possessing an adamantine sense of fairness, conciseness in his voice but still genteel, inching toward the line of impropriety but inserting a wink if he crossed it. Named appropriately for the North Carolina educator and activist, Frank Porter Graham, Audrey and Graham recently gave a sizable slice of their thespian incomes to social justice, Biden, and the Democratic Party. 

Graham loved to banter and argue; he was witty and smart. He once offered me advice as I headed to a new teaching job in Texas. After reading a profile of the student body with its high number of National Merit finalists, Graham, being a finalist himself and knowing I wasn’t, drily said, “Curtis, I think you better read a few more books before getting in the car.”

Foremost, however, in Graham’s life was acting.  He initiated his theatrical skills as a youth in his father’s magic show Saucy Sorcery, honed them at Davidson College, and owned them by choosing to perform throughout the eastern seaboard for forty-three years in regional theater where he, according to Florida Repertory Theatre, “was a giant.”  He loved to connect with his fellow performers, to reach every member of the audience, and to seek doggedly the authentic purpose of the play, knowing full well it was elusive, but therein lay the thrill of acting.  

Like musicians who don’t merely play the notes but seek to make music, Graham wanted to perform with actors who didn’t simply reiterate the lines but who sought the riskier stage atmosphere of letting the play evolve through newfound listening and reactions, hoping for richer, unpredictable but plausible nuances with every performance. 

The key to this ingredient in drama was to prepare thoroughly so that confidence and risk-taking prevailed, inviting change, vitality, and discovery. It made the play life-like, not simply staged.  Graham was a stickler for understanding the play and gleeful to go down any rabbit hole that arose serendipitously.  One goal was to perform the role of King Lear one-hundred times; he made it to sixty-two. 

Although difficult to choose but still daring to do so, he claims that among his favorite roles were Robin in The Children with People’s Light & Theatre, C.P Ellis in Best of Enemies with Florida Rep, and Mr. Webb in Our Town at People’s Light.  He performed most extensively with People’s Light and Theatre (1996-2020, his theatrical home), North Carolina Shakespeare Festival (15 seasons1998-2012), and the Charlotte Repertory Theatre (1981-2002). 

He worked with Riverside Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, North Carolina Stage Company, Festival Stage, Cape Fear Regional Theatre, The Barter Theatre, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, and the aforementioned Florida Repertory Theatre.

Although Graham was a joy to watch on stage, his most fascinating role was when he performed with Mom.  In the last years of her life, she suffered from severe hearing loss and dementia, not a good combination.  Despite these often impenetrable barriers, Graham was a marvel to behold as he broke through them and connected with her.  He made her smile, laugh, and seemingly carry on a meaningful conversation.  In many ways, this ability underscored his wonderful empathy, a core asset of every great actor and person.  To carry it off, Graham meticulously studied her and was thrilled by every bit of small, painstaking progress.

We will miss Graham for his warm, authentic hugs; his witty, chain-reaction humor that builds endlessly; and his irreverent yet sweet, twinkle-eyed presence.

Please go to live theatre and think of Graham as the curtain rises, pledge to honor social justice or send Audrey a condolence card with Elvis on it. We, the family, will resurrect him each time we gather by sharing meaningful, humorous, and lovable stories about Graham. We hope you can as well. Play on!

Donations to honor Graham Fennel Smith, may be made to:

People’s Light & Theatre- Click on Support Us

Graham Smith Fund with Playworks/First United Methodist Church for the development of The 2021 Theatre Diversity Project- Scroll down for Graham Smith Memorial

Democratic National Committee-fundraising.

A memorial service will be held at a later time.

Emily Pate Powell ’77

Senior Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge Emily Pate Powell, age 64, passed into glory on Tuesday, December 31, 2019. Emily was born in Richmond, Virginia on September 30, 1955 to her father, Presbyterian Minister William Arnold Pate, and her mother, nurse Martha Powell Pate.

She is survived by her beloved husband, Anthony O.L. Powell, her adult but adoring children, Nathan Pate Powell, 33 (Karin Kathleen), Jessica Olivia Lucy Powell, 28, her two treasured grandchildren, Finley Kathleen Powell, 3, and Jonathan Anthony Powell, 7 months, her loving sister and brother, Martha Pate Teters (Edward) and John Edwin Pate, and her nieces and nephews, Elizabeth (Jeremy) Riddle, William (Kellie) Teters, Hannah (David) Morris, and John Edwin Pate, Jr.

Emily dedicated her life to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She spoke with authority, and she was never really wrong about anything, much to her children’s chagrin. Her stated goal, which she achieved with ease, was to be the type of woman of whom the devil would say each morning, “Oh no, she’s up.” She was a proud member of Christ Community Church Montreat in North Carolina, but she frequently attended 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville with her children and grandchildren. Emily attained a high degree of education and professional accomplishment.

She graduated from her father’s alma mater, Davidson College, in the first class that included female students. She and the other female pioneers from the class of 1977 are aptly called “the Wild Women of Davidson.” Emily obtained her juris doctorate from Mercer University. After practicing law for a short period of time, she was appointed to serve as a magistrate judge in Gwinnett County in which capacity she served for over 20 years. At the time of her death, she was the most senior active magistrate judge on the bench in Gwinnett County.

Emily acquired and exhibited excellent taste and artistic skill throughout her life. She was a multitalented creative: a painter, quilter and needlework artist, musician, writer and editor, educator, party planner, interior decorator, and gift-giver. She made everything she touched more beautiful. She gleefully corrected spelling, grammar, and pronunciation mistakes wherever found, with particular relish for those issuing from eminent and self-serious sources. Her portfolio of artwork is extensive and singularly beautiful, but so valuable that none of it is ever expected to appear on the art market.

Emily took great pride and satisfaction from the lives and accomplishments of her children, for which she rightly extracted thanks and gratitude from them. When one of her closest friends was asked how Emily raised her kids, that friend answered, “with an iron fist,” a response with which Emily heartily agreed and happily quoted. She loved her children and grandchildren fiercely and tenderly.

Emily’s excellent taste extended to her choice of husband, Tony Powell, who is a lawyer, a partner at the law firm of Powell & Edwards, a passionate Bible study teacher, renowned eulogist, and active member of the community. Emily loved to tell the story of how she, with help from her dear friends, lured him in while they were in law school together at Mercer. She fought for him and supported him throughout their life together. Their life together has now ended, but Emy will be loved and remembered fondly by all who knew her.

A Memorial Service to celebrate the Life of Emily Pate Powell will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020, at 4 PM, at the Buford Church of God with Reverend Doctor Davis Chappell officiating. The family will receive friends on Friday, January 17, from 5 to 8 PM, at Tom M. Wages Lawrenceville Chapel and on Saturday, January 18, from 2 to 4 PM, at the Buford Church of God.

There will be open visitation at the funeral home from 8 AM to 5 PM starting on Monday, January 6 through Friday, January 17.

Condolences may be sent to or viewed at Tom M. Wages Funeral Service LLC, “A Family Company” 120 Scenic Hwy., Lawrenceville, GA, 770-963-2411 has been entrusted with the arrangements.

Patricia Ann Morris Harris ’77

Patricia Ann Morris Harris, 64, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 17, 2019 in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her family.

She is survived by her loving and devoted husband Edward M. Harris of Perkasie, PA, her daughter Patty Harris Dawson and son-in-law David Dawson of Quakertown, PA, and her son Mac William Harris of New York City, NY.

She is also survived by her parents Mac Glenn and Janelle Connevey Morris of Princeton, NJ, her brother Robert Steven Morris of Cleveland, OH, her sister Janelle Morris Thibau and brotherin-law Eric Thibau of Potomac, MD, and her brother John Logan Morris and sister-in-law Susan Teare Morris of Princeton, NJ, along with many loving nieces and nephews. 

Patricia, known to her family and friends as Pat, grew up on Clearbrook Farm in Princeton, NJ and attended the Princeton public schools. She graduated in 1973 from Princeton High School and attended Davidson College in Davidson, NC, matriculating in the first co-ed class. She founded the Davidson Women’s Chorale Group and was lead singer in several campus musicals. She graduated in 1977 with a B.A. in Music. 

Patricia was an advertising sales associate at the Norfolk Ledger Star newspaper and worked in a nursing home in Norfolk, VA, before joining the team responsible for the opening of the Princeton Campus of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Smith, Inc. on Scudders Mill Road. She enjoyed a long career at Merrill Lynch, and later Bank of America, in Human Resources where she focused on Manager Training. She later joined the staff of Thompson Toyota in Doylestown, PA where she made many wonderful friends and colleagues on that exceptional team. 

Countless family members, friends, and the community have heard Pat playing piano and guitar and singing over the years with her family. Aside from her career, she was a dedicated wife to Ed and a wonderful mother to Patty and Mackey. A highlight of her life was the recent wedding of her daughter Patty to David Dawson outdoors at a beautiful farm. At that wedding, her son Mackey, a songwriter in his spare time, assembled his friends and launched the “Silo Boys” as a band unmatched in its talent. Pat was proud to be anointed their Number One fan.

In addition to her love of family and music, Pat was famous for her baking and canning, and her homemade chocolate chip cookies and coffee cake were relished by all. She loved her collies, musicals, horseback rides, and singing duets with her sister Janie. She loved to drive out West with a car full of cousins on annual family trips. Pat is known to be the fountain of kindness that has fed a very large extended family and will continue to serve as an inspiration of giving to family, her church, and the community at large. Pat will always be remembered for the music that brought joy to everyone around her, and which will forever be celebrated by those who knew and loved her. 

Pat grew up in the Nassau Presbyterian Church of Princeton, NJ and was a member of the congregation of Deep Run Presbyterian Church of Perkasie, PA.

Services will be held Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at twelve o’clock noon at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, NJ. 

The family wishes to thank the kind and loving staff at The Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and her doctors and nurses who cared for Pat as if she was one of their own. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in her name to Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina.

Steven Venning Kruger ’77

Steven Venning Kruger was born February 19, 1955 in Charleston, SC, and passed away July 20, 2016 in Atlanta, GA, surrounded by family.

He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson College in 1977 and a master’s in Media Arts from the University of South Carolina in 1981.

His career was highlighted by periods at Heery Architecture and The Coca-Cola Company. A life-long student of art and literature, a follower of American musical theatre, and collector of original Disney drawings, his life was full of curiosity.

He is survived by his mother, Shirley Venning Kruger of Atlanta, GA; brother, Walter James Kruger, III and sister-in-law, Sandra Kruger of Atlanta, GA; niece, Logan Frances Kruger of Brooklyn, NY; uncle and aunt, Louis and Nancy Kruger, of Charleston, SC; aunt, Elizabeth Yon of Summerville, SC; beloved cat, Grover; many cousins, honorary nieces and nephews, and countless loving friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Atlanta Humane Society, Project Open Hand or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A. S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home & Crematory.

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