Ralph Vernon Smith, 85, was called to his heavenly home on January 22, 2023. He was born on April 12, 1937, in Greenville, PA. He was a resident of Poquoson, VA for 44 years. Ralph, fondly known as “Smitty”, was the most kind, generous, loving man you would ever have the pleasure of meeting. People were drawn to his charismatic personality, smile, and wonderful laugh. Smitty loved the Lord and all things associated with his church. He was a member of First United Church of Christ, Hampton, VA for 60+ years. He was Chairman of the Deacons and also served on many other boards over the course of his membership. He was a larger-than-life presence in his church with too many things to list and he will be sorely missed. He sang in the men’s chorus alongside his son Troy and was a member of BROM (Brotherhood of Retired Old Men). Smitty enjoyed traveling with his family and friends but especially with his wife Celia. They loved the “Mystery Bus Tours”. The excitement of not knowing where they were going thrilled him and he was never disappointed. His children were also thrilled that he wasn’t driving. Smitty loved to take pictures everywhere they went. His favorite pictures aside from family and friends were of flowers and nature. He was an avid bowler for the majority of his adult life, and he loved to work in the yard and be outside. That was his happy place. Smitty will forever be a Washington Redskins fan no matter what anyone else calls them. Smitty, known as Papaw to his 4 grandsons, enjoyed watching them in all their sporting/school events. He was a supporter and encourager in all things from baseball, football, golf, band and anything else they did. He was a very proud Papaw. He was the life of the party on the golf course even if his game wasn’t all that good. His sense of humor and lack of golfing skills always had them laughing. To say he enjoyed every minute would be an understatement.
Smitty was brought to Virginia by the Air Force in 1957. He served his country for 4 years. It was at Langley Air Force Base that he met the love of his life, Celia. Their love of dancing brought them together and they have been dancing for the past 63 years. They were married on June 24, 1961 and have celebrated 61+ years of marriage. Their union produced two amazing children, their son Troy and daughter Dana. These are their words not ours, and we were taught not to argue with our parents, so we completely agree. Dad left the Air Force in 1961 because mom was not the moving kind. She loved her family and did not want to leave Virginia. Dad then started his new career in Data Processing with Noland Company. He left Noland to start his Civil Service career at Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, then Norfolk Naval Station where he retired after 25 years of service. Not one to be idle, he then took on a part time position as a Parts delivery driver for Casey Chevrolet for 15 years. When he finally decided to retire for good, he then became a volunteer for the Virginia Living Museum. There he became a snake handler and would educate the guests about snakes and other small animals. He certainly surprised us with his last working gig. We had no idea he liked snakes; just thankful he didn’t bring any home.
Ralph was predeceased by his father and mother, Roy J. Smith and Georgia Smith, brothers, John Smith and Donald (Dutch) Smith. His father and mother-in-law, Ernest and Mildred Coltrain. Brother-in-law Merrill Maye.
He leaves behind those that loved him most, his wife Celia, son Troy Smith (Libbie), daughter Dana Lawson (Wayne). Grandsons, Justin Smith (Torey), Derrick Lawson (Holly), Keith Lawson (Andrea) and Jared Smith (Kaylei). Great-Granddaughters, Brooklynn Smith, Amaya Lawson, Isabella Lawson and soon to be Great-Grandson Parker Smith. He also leaves behind his sisters in law, Christine Smith and Jane Leonard (Gerald), and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great nephews. He also leaves behind his church family that he loved very much.
Smitty’s Celebration of Life will be at 12:00 pm on Saturday, January 28 the at First United Church of Christ, 1017 Todds Lane, Hampton, VA 23666 by the Pastor Ed Lilley. Visitation will follow in the fellowship hall immediately after the service, and other times at their home in Poquoson.
We would like to express our extreme gratitude and thanks to all the staff at Riverside Hospital that took care of our dad. Especially the nurses on the Tower 5th floor. They treated him as if he was one of their own, and it did not go unnoticed!
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: First United Church of Christ, 1017 Todds Lane, Hampton, VA, 23666, The Virginia Living Museum, 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd, Newport News, VA 23601 or the Lewy Body Dementia Association (lbda.org).
Arrangements and heartfelt guidance through Claytor Rollins Funeral Home. Online condolences to claytorrollins.com.
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