Thursday, May 26, 2011


Remembering Charles Benjamin Smith, June 17, 1937-May 21, 2010

A prouder grandpa there could not have been.  As Ben placed newborn Benjamin into his arms, the look on his face was priceless.  The camera captured his thoughts – pride, excitement, and perhaps a little nervous energy.  “How do I hold him?” he said.  When Charles Benjamin Smith, III was born, so was a grandfather. 

December 11, 1999

Charles Benjamin Smith, affectionately known as Papa, seemed to love being a grandfather.  He loved the visits from his grandchildren, all five of them!  Many funny expressions and comments were stated during his early years of grandparenting.  “He’s really coming along” is one phrase he often used to describe little Benjamin’s growth.  In those days, Ben worked in Lumpkin on nearly a weekly basis.  Each week he dutifully took baby Benjamin for a full day’s visit.  I believe Papa really looked forward to those visits.  I also believe he never changed a single diaper!

When we first told him that I was pregnant, Mr. Charlie promptly stated, “Well, I guess it will be a boy or a girl!”  He thought all of his grandchildren hung the moon.  We could be talking about anything, but he loved talking about his grandkids – Kenleigh, Lauren, Georgia-Lee, Nicholas, and Benjamin. 

When I met him, he loved talking to me about his growing up years in Alabama.  Being from Alabama, I guess that was his way of connecting with me.  Sometimes we talked about the same stories over and again.  As he talked about life in Alabama, it sounded like he enjoyed living there – the idyllic setting along the rocky creek, spending time with Sonny, Carolyn, and Joann, tending store with his parents.

Growing up in Alabama, with his favorite dog

Mr. Charlie had something in common with his other daughter-in-law too - basketball.  He loved it and she knew it!  Melissa played basketball in college.  Since Mr. Charlie coached it for years and watched it on television often, they immediately found a common ground.  Mr. Charlie liked sports of all kinds; he coached many during his professional years. 

Some folks just have a personality that makes them memorable, makes other folks like them and enjoy being around them.  Mr. Charlie was like that.  All over town, people knew him.  Many knew him as “Coach” – most still called him that too, even though it has been more than 20 years since he coached anyone.  That likeable and friendly personality of Mr. Charlie’s is truly a gift.  His son Ken has it – the quick smile, the ability to put others at ease, the friendliness.  I am glad I got to know that Charlie Smith.

Son Ken may have gotten some of his personality attributes from his father but so did Ben.  Mr. Charlie really marked him too.  I see much of his father in Ben.  Often it is a little expression or in the way he stands and sometimes in his comments or the way he talks.  Because of his father, Ben is an excellent father today.
Wedding Day August 14, 1960 - Mr. and Mrs. John Elby Smith, newly married Mr. and Mrs. Charles Benjamin Smith, and Mr. and Mrs. Starling Peeples Owens

Grandfather, father, and husband – the life he built with wife Ava was full.  Just shy of 50 years together, they were right on track to celebrate their golden anniversary on August 14, 2010.  The pretty thin redhead from Fitzgerald really caught Mr. Charlie’s eye, and apparently his heart, during their college years at Georgia Southern.  Coaching and teaching many of the kids in Stewart County, this couple moved through those days of the working years and settled into a relaxed retirement.  In retirement, the couple could most often be found “at the lake” rather than in Lumpkin.  However, even during their working years, they found time to go to the lake to water the red tips, fish, and enjoy relaxing with friends and family.

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