Willie Gaynell "Pap" Smith, 94, passed away the evening of Dec. 14, 2013, as a result of medical complications.
Willie was being comforted by the medical staff at the Christian Hospital-Northeast in St. Louis County, Mo., at the time of his passing.
Willie was born Sept. 27, 1919 in Estelle, Miss., to Felix and Mary Smith. He was the eldest of four brothers, Henry, James and George. He attended Lincoln High School and Alabama State University and graduated from West Virginia State University. Willie was an outstanding student athlete in football in both high school and college. He was inducted into the West Virginia State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. Prior to o receiving a master of science degree in educational administration from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, he attended graduate school at the University of Iowa and Saint Louis University.
Willie is survived by his by his former wife, Marion F. Smith, mother of his two sons, Edward and Charles; his brother, Henry; his wife, Fannie, mother of his stepchildren, Deborah and Adrian; his grandchildren, Blake, Nia, Brent and Kamia; great-grandchildren, Makalah, Simone, Brent Jr. and Ursula; and a host of cousins, nephews and nieces in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.
Mr. Smith was a World War II veteran who served in the Pacific theatre of war rising to the rank of staff sergeant. He was honorably discharged in 1946. After completing his college education he returned home to East St. Louis and began a teaching career. Willie retired from School District 189 after working 38 years as a physical education supervisor and coaching positions at Hughes-Quinn Junior High School and Lincoln High School of the following sports of track, basketball and football.
Mr. Smith attended St. Luke A.M.E. Church in East. St. Louis, Ill., for more than 60 years. He was a fervent sportsman, who loved the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams. He watched and listened to many games on the radio and television. He particularly loved watching Venus and Serena play tennis on television. Mr. Smith was an avid cartoonist who often drew political figures. He was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.
Mr. Willie G. Smith had a positive impact on thousands of East St. Louis School students and athletes. He was a great dad and a good friend. His wit, compassion and love of sports will be greatly missed.
Visitation: Friends may call from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, at Westside Missionary Baptist Church, 2677 Dunn Road, St. Louis, Mo.
Funeral: Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, at Westside Missionary Baptist Church. Burial will be at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Dec. 22, 2013