KINGSPORT, TN - Robert Walter Smithwick, Jr. (“Bob”) died on Saturday, August 4, 2012, at Baysmont Healthcare Center in Kingsport, TN at the age of 89.
He was born May 13, 1923, in Louisburg, NC, the son of Robert and Dorothy (Johnson) Smithwick. He is predeceased by his parents and his first wife, Kathryn Evans Smithwick.
Bob attended Mills High School in Louisburg and Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, VA. His studies at NC State College (now University) in Raleigh, NC, were interrupted by World War II. He was called to active duty in April, 1943, and served in France and Germany, where he was wounded and taken as a prisoner of war. He was an eye-witness of the famous Hammelburg raid on March 27, 1945. He was liberated on April 29, 1945. He returned to NC State after the war where he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi honorary fraternity. In 1946, Bob graduated with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering.
He served in the Tennessee National Guard from 1947 to 1950 in the 27th Infantry. His regiment was called to active duty with the Seventy Infantry Division in Korea, where he was wounded. He received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his combat service in World War II and in Korea. He continued to serve in the National Guard and retired as a Major with 20 years of military service in 1983.
Bob began his career at Tennessee Eastman Company in July, 1946 as a special assistant to the patent attorney. After working in the Cellulose Esters Division, he moved to Market Research for Eastman products. He then worked at various assignments in the Filter Products Division until his retirement in May, 1986, while Tennessee Eastman Company was still a part of Eastman Kodak.
His community involvement included membership in the Jaycees, Kiwanis Club, Tri-Cities Computer Club, and the Friends of the Kingsport Library. As a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal, he served as a Sunday School teacher and sponsored a Boy Scout troop there. In 1977, he became a member of First Broad St. United Methodist Church, Pairs and Spares Sunday School Class, and the Sanctuary Choir.
Bob was the epitome of the lifelong learner. An avid reader, he surrounded himself with books, and loved nothing more than a lively discussion of topics ranging from politics to literature to theology.
He married Kathryn Evans on July 15, 1944. He is survived by their children: two daughters Kay (Bruce) Craft of Augusta, GA and Ann ( David) Sellman of LaGrange, GA and son Bob Smithwick, III (Katherine) of Knoxville, TN. Grandchildren are Jonathan Evans Craft (Jennifer MacLean) of Chicago, IL, Jeffrey Scott Craft (Randy Walters) of Decatur, GA, Daniel (Sarah) Smithwick of Knoxville, TN, and Laura (Tim) Airhart of Knoxville, TN. Bob’s five great-grandchildren are Meghan Reed, Matthew and Andrew Smithwick and Griffin and Ethan Airhart, all of Knoxville, TN.
Bob is survived by his wife of 35 years, Frances Bryant Williamson Smithwick and her children, Beth (Roy) Geno of Kingsport, TN, Macon (Michael) Blyth of Evanston, IL and Perry (Kathy) Williamson of Chesapeake, VA. Bob watched their children grow up and joined Frances in love for them all. The Williamson grandchildren are: Michael Shalloway (Samantha) of Atlanta, GA, Aliza (Jesse) Winship-Freyer of Seattle, WA, Steven (Chelsea) Shalloway of Seattle, WA, Matthew (Dana) Blyth of San Antonio, TX, Mallory and Samantha Blyth of Evanston, IL, David Geno of Kingsport, TN, Kelly (Alex) Kirk of Chapel Hill, NC, Mark (Keely) Goldsmith of Durham, NC, and three great-grandchildren, Davis, Zoey, and Emma Kate Kirk. Bob is also survived by sisters Evelyn S. Turner of Port Charlotte, FL and Mary S. Hayes of Burlington, NC.
A private graveside service with military honors will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 11, at 11:00 am at First Broad St. United Methodist Church with Dr. J. Spurgeon McCartt and Rev. Mickey Rainwater officiating. The family will receive friends following the service.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Carpenter’s Helpers or Food Assistance Ministries at First Broad St. United Methodist Church or the Friends of the Kingsport Public Library.
Please visit www.hamlettdobson.com to leave an on-line condolence for the family.
Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes, Kingsport is serving the family of Robert Walter Smithwick, Jr.