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Highlights of Life
On Thursday, November 29, 1951, William Bill Smith, Sr. and Willie Mae Perry Smith welcomed their baby boy, James Harold into the world. James along with his older brothers grew up and enjoyed one another often playing some type of sports together.
James graduated from Bay City High School in 1970 where he was the quarterback for the Bay City Wildcat Football team. Following graduation, he became an exemplary master electrician and worked throughout his years for DOW Chemical, STP and Smith Electric. He liked electrical work and would often take one of his kids along with him when he went to service residential accounts. He relished in showing them some of the basics like changing out lights. They were great helpers – passing him tools as needed.
James enjoyed his children. As they were growing up it was commonplace to find them on the little league field with James coaching them. He was a fun coach. Like most coaches he enjoyed winning, however James was a lot more interested in the kids learning and enjoying the game. Not only did he care for his sons, but he was that community ‘dad’ who would pick up other kids to take them to practice. He also took his children to professional games including the Houston Astros, the Houston Rockets, as well as the Globetrotters. Now, as adults he looked forward to spending time with them as well as his grandchildren, especially on holidays.
[A person smiling for the camera Description automatically generated with low confidence] James was a philanthropist and Civil Rights activist in Bay City. He was also very active in the local and state political arena. A starch supporter, he campaigned effortlessly during President Obama’s two bids for office, traveling from state to state to assist on the front line to help ensure President Obama’s election and reelection.
Not only was he active in his community but he was very active in church. James loved the Lord and made sure that his children grew up knowing God. He believed that you didn’t send your kids to church, but you took them with you to church. Now that he has grandchildren, he is just as passionate that they know who God is and they spend time together in service. Not only do you serve God in the ‘church building’ but he also believed in helping those who he could help and reaching out to others with love and care. As a result, he played an instrumental role in the life of many.
James was full of life. Part of that excitement for life could be heard loud and proud as he loudly played his music. He really loved artists like Earth, Wind and Fire, Frankie Beverly and Maze, as well as James Brown and others. A relaxing day for him would include eating some good home cooked foods like ox tails, baked chicken, candied yams, dressing, and pecan or sweet potato pie while either listening to music or watching sports, especially if Serena Williams was playing or just watching a western like Gunsmoke.
So many great memories including those great backrubs he would give his children when they were little and yes, he gave great backrubs!!! What a moment that was shared with his daughter a few ago while he was sick in Galveston, and she was able to just simply rub his back and reflect on the love and many things they shared… precious memories. On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, James was called from labor to reward. There are numerous things that will be missed about James including his insanely funny humor that would brighten the gloomiest day. Hearing his voice on phone calls, conversations about politics, sports, and the doings of his kids and grandkids will also be missed. He was loved and will be remembered as a witty father who loved his children, did what he could to help them and others; a community leader who was politically astute and a kind-hearted gentleman.
Those who will often reflect on these and other memories include his children: James (Shaquana) Smith, Jr. of Houston, TX, Latoyya Smith of Baytown, TX, Krystal Polk of Houston, TX, Nicholas Smith of Pearland, TX, and Demetra Smith of Houston, TX; brother: William Bill Smith, Jr. of Las Vegas, Nevada; grandchildren: Ebony Smith; Brittney Smith; James Smith III; Jacey Smith; and Janiya Grier; as well as his nieces, nephews, family, friends and loved ones and community connections. Those who transitioned before James include his wife, Joyce Black, his parents, brothers Edward Smith Sr. and Nelson Smith, and sister Grace Thompson.