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William Earl "Bill" Smith
October 9, 1927 ~ November 15, 2023 (age 96) 96 Years Old
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William Earl “Bill” Smith, 96, passed away peacefully on November 15, 2023, at the Carolina Inn, with his wife by his side. A native son of North Carolina, whose ancestors were among the early settlers of North Carolina, Bill was born October 9, 1927, in Wayne County, NC, the son of Alice (Daniels) and Amaziah Smith. Preceding him in death were his parents and brother Edward Patrick Smith.
Bill is survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Peggy Ellis Sutton Smith; his daughter, Karen Smith Knowles (Michael), and his son, Michael David Smith (Sandy) of Fayetteville; four grandchildren, Dr. Russell Davenport, III and wife, Dr. Sasha Sabir Davenport of Charlotte; Laura Davenport Bass and husband, Samuel Bass of Raleigh; Charlotte Davenport Adler and husband, Benjamin Adler of Raleigh, and William Brent Smith of Fayetteville; two great-grandsons, Alexander Suleiman Davenport of Charlotte, and Wes Emmett Adler of Raleigh.
In 1947, as a Senior at Goldsboro High School, Bill was honored with the Paramount Theatre Sportsmanship Award, an award selected by his fellow football teammates and coaches, to honor the player exemplifying high moral character and spirit of good sportsmanship.
He continued to live a life embodying the ideals of this early recognition, on and off the fields of competition, always winning and losing with grace.
In 1949, Bill enlisted into the US Army, where he served in the 3rd Army, Occupied Japan under his distant cousin, General Douglas MacArthur. While in Japan, he played on the traveling US Army football team with the 43rd Engineers. Upon his discharge and return to the U.S., Bill began work in sales for JJ Haines, Inc., retiring after 37 years as the company’s top salesman.
Upon his retirement, Bill competed in the NC Senior Games, winning hundreds of medals, as well as competing on the NC Senior Games basketball team, traveling across the country for the events.
On November 25, 1953, Bill married the love of his life, Peggy Ellis Sutton Smith, and moved to Fayetteville, NC. An avid outdoorsman, Bill enjoyed hunting, fishing, and boating, and cultivated many lifelong friendships in those pursuits along the North Carolina coast. He shared his love of nature and adventure with his children and grandchildren, instilling a sense of wonder and appreciation for all God’s creatures great and small.
Bill was a lifelong member of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, where he served as a Deacon, Greeter, and active member in the Habitat for Humanity program. Bill was always looking for ways to help, donating his time, resources, and truck loads of sweet potatoes from family farms.
All who knew Bill understood that family was the most important part of his life. His quick wit and sense of humor entertained us, even after the progressing dementia robbed him of his memories. He was still entertained in his final months by visits, photos and videos from grandchildren and great-grandchildren, which produced many smiles and looks of pride.
Our family’s solace comes from the compassionate care, comfort and support provided by the caring staff at Carolina Inn Assisted Living facility where he resided for over nine years.
Though he may no longer walk among us, his legacy and love persist. The family will honor his life with a private celebration at a later time.