DELBARTON, W.Va. — Early Sunday morning, March 2, 2014, Bill Smith left this earth and was carried by angels to his home in Heaven. Although Bill had been ill for some time, his strong will helped him to continue to do some of the things he loved. Those who knew him well understand that "taking it easy" was not part of his ethic.
Born Will M. Smith on March 20, 1950, he was the second child of Captain Will M. Smith and Ruby Lowe Smith, who both preceded him in death.
Surviving him are one brother, Michael M. Smith; one sister, Mitzi Smith Farley; and a first cousin/brother, Jim Chafin, who is the son of Ruby's twin sister, Ruth Chafin. In addition, he is survived by one uncle, Retired Colonel Thomas Argyle Lowe; one niece, Jessica Farley Evans; one grand-niece, Harper Evans; one grand-nephew, Grady Paul Evans; and two first cousins, Mark Lowe and Tom Lowe.
A humble man, Bill, during his 30 plus years of teaching and coaching, developed strong relationships with Burch High School students and athletes that have continued until he died. Fellow teachers and coaches came to count on Bill's steady strength as they worked with him in various ways. One cannot describe the man without reference to his marvelous sense of humor. Students and teachers alike who felt as if they had "put one over" on Bill soon discovered the lengths to which he would go to repay their efforts.
Having had an illustrious career in coaching both girls' and boys' basketball, Bill became a vital part of the fabric that was the Burch Nation. According to longtime stat keeper, James Ferrell, Bill coached the Burch Lady Bulldogs for 29 years, beginning in 1977 and recording 374 wins and 155 losses. Other accolades are his 1990 state championship, his 1991 state runner-up status, his winning streak of 43 games, and his seven-time appointment as Coach of the Year. Taking his Lady Bulldogs to the state tournament nine times, Bill produced a number of outstanding players: Five played Division I basketball. Many played college basketball at other levels. Coaching 11 first-team all-staters, he had 22 all-staters, all told. Bill's girls were his girls for life when he coached them because he considered all of them family. He remained particularly close to the members of his state championship team, several of whom took him to doctor appointments and visited him when he was hospitalized in the last few years.
A great assistant coach for 29 years as well, he was part of the coaching staff with John Maynard, Mike Smith, Jim Chafin, and Kevin Hatfield. With those men, he won three state championships and two state runner-ups.
A lifetime fan of the New York Yankees, Bill kept up with them via MLB on radio and television. He and his mother and his siblings have had that devotion in common. One hardly ever saw Bill upset, except when his Yankees weren't doing well. Because of his love for baseball, Bill coached Burch Baseball from 1977 to 1981, traveling from field to field because his team did not have one.
Bill's devotion to stray animals was a piece of his psyche that was common knowledge to anyone who knew him. From adopting pets on his own, to feeding any stray that he found in Delbarton, to buying food for other pet lovers who were in dire circumstances, Bill spent much of his life in carrying on his mother and aunt's tradition of caring for unfortunate pets.
In lieu of flowers in Bill's memory, his family has asked that individuals who want to memorialize him make donations to Tug Valley Veterinary Clinic or Williamson Animal Hospital in Williamson, WV, in Bill's name. At the gathering Friday, there will be an opportunity to contribute to this cause that was so dear to Bill's heart.
On Friday evening, March 7, the family and friends of Bill Smith will gather from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Burch Middle School to remember this man. On Saturday, March 8, at 1 p.m., a Home-going Celebration will be held at the Regional Church of God, where Reverend Mitchell Bias, Ralph Farley, and Britt Moore will be officiating.
Chafin Funeral Home of Delbarton is in charge of arrangements.