Bessie M. Smith (1916 - 2012)

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Bessie McElreath


Leicester - Bessie McElreath Smith, 96, of 435 North Turkey Creek Road, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, at John F. Keever, Jr. Solace Center.

A native of Buncombe County, she was preceded in death by her husband, Clinton J. Smith and was the daughter of the late Rev. Fate and Hester Teague McElreath. She was also preceded in death by four sisters, Gladys, Lucy, Grace and Alma; three brothers, Earl, Frank and Lester, and a son-in-law, David Ray Bishop.

Mrs. Smith was a faithful member of Beulah Baptist Church where she taught Sunday school and sang in the choir until her health declined. She worked many years in the cafeterias at Leicester Elementary School and Erwin High School. She enjoyed working in her flower garden, enjoyed southern gospel music, and was the mother of the Smith Family Singers.

She was a devoted mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother who loved her family dearly. A wonderful Christian woman, she set a great example for her family. She was a great Christian witness to all she came in contact with and wanted to tell everyone about "my Jesus".

Mrs. Smith's favorite quote was John 14, 1-3: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

Mrs. Smith is survived by her four daughters and their husbands, Sarah Ann and Joe Stevens, Marlene and Dan Weaver, Linda and Mack Brooks, and Ruby and Earl Wolfe; three sons and their wives, Jack and Betty Smith, Ronnie and Dorothy Smith, and Rev. Bobby and Sharon Smith; ten grandchildren and their spouses, Deborah and Ken McCurry, Danny and Penny Stevens, Diana and Howell Pegg, Tricia and Curtis Wallace (fiancé), Jackie and Johnny Sparks, Rev. Ricky and Chrissy Wolfe, Kim and Greg Jones, Jayme and Janelle Smith, Timmy Smith, Matthew and Natalie Smith; great-grandchildren, Brittney, Allison, Shelley and Michael (fiancé), Lindsey and Drew, Brian and Christine, Michael, Patrick, Preston, Lauren, Tyler, Madison, Ashlyn, Dylan, Austin, Allie Grace, Gabriel, Aiden and Hunter; two great-great-grandchildren, Peyton and Jaden; three sisters-in-law, Helen McElreath, Edith Miller and Frankie Ingle; and several nieces and nephews.

A celebration service will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Beulah Baptist Church with the Rev. Claude Surrett, Rev. Bobby Smith (son), and Rev. Ricky Wolfe (grandson) officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. Pallbearers will be Danny Stevens, Patrick Redden, Johnny Sparks, Greg Jones, Jayme Smith, and Matthew Smith. Honorary pallbearers will be grandsons and great-grandsons.

Her family will receive friends from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Friday at Groce Funeral Home on Patton Avenue. Flowers are appreciated or memorials may be made to CarePartners Hospice, PO Box 25338, Asheville, NC 28813, or to Beulah Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, 373 North Turkey Creek Road, Leicester, NC 28748.

Mrs. Smith's family expresses sincere appreciation to the staff and chaplains at St. Joseph Hospital and CarePartners Hospice for their loving care and guidance.

The on-line register is available at


Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times from Aug. 10 to Aug. 12, 2012
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