Smith remembered as a family man
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 1:01 AM
Philadelphia businessman Gregory Harold Smith was remembered this week as a family man who shared his love of sports and the outdoors with his three sons.
After graduating from Ole Miss, Smith chose to return home to raise his children "in the sunlight of his family," a childhood friend said.
Smith, who operated Shelter Insurance Agency on Holland Avenue, died Thursday at his home. He was 48.
A 1983 graduate of Philadelphia High School, Smith had a perpetual positive outlook on life, said Dr. Steve Molpus, who grew up in Philadelphia and is a maxillofacial surgeon in North Little Rock, Ark.
Others recalled Smith's contagious smile, his love of sports and most especially his love of family.
"Greg had a lot of best friends," Molpus said. "If you met Greg for a few minutes, you would feel like you had known him all of your life. You felt like he was your best friend."
Molpus recalled a phrase that Smith used often. "If you had a conversation with him about something tough going on, he would always say, 'It's all good, it's all good,'" Molpus said.
Smith quarterbacked the Philadelphia High School Tornadoes in 1981 when Marcus Dupree, the most highly sought after running back in the nation, was a senior.
Dupree on Tuesday recalled his senior year and Smith's first time in as starting quarterback when he called the wrong play.
"I go, Greg, just calm down and make sure you turn around and hand the ball to me and you'll be fine."
That year, Dupree rushed for 2,955 yards and scored 36 touchdowns.
After Dupree signed with Oklahoma in 1982, Smith told Dupree he was coming to see him play. And he did.
Dupree kept hearing somebody calling his name during warm-ups for the Missouri game.
"I looked over to our sideline and there he (Greg Smith) was smiling," Dupree said.
Dupree, who returned home for the funeral, said he and Smith spoke regularly and Dupree affirmed Smith's "it's all good" phrase.
Smith loved Philadelphia and chose to return to his hometown not long after graduating from the University of Mississippi.
"Greg came back because he loved Philadelphia," Molpus said. "He made a choice to come live in the small town where he was raised, for his boys to be raised in the sunlight of his family. He made that choice unlike some of us who did not come back."
Molpus recalled his friend withdrawing once from Ole Miss when his father suffered his first heart attack.
"He withdrew from school to keep the family business thriving," Molpus said.
Longtime friend Jeremy Chalmers remembered Smith's devotion to his family.
"Obviously, Greg loved his kids and was very proud of them and his family," said Chalmers, who enjoyed athletic events and other outings with his friend. "He worked to take care of his family. We were good friends."
Friend Cecil Price recalled Smith's smiling face.
"He was always happy to see you," Price said. "He always made you feel like you were welcome. He loved life. He loved to go places."
Smith had many, many friends, Price said.
"He liked you whether you were the brokest or the richest person in town."
Services for Smith were held Sunday at 2 p.m. from First United Methodist Church. The Rev. Fred Britton officiated. Burial was in Eastlawn Cemetery. McClain-Hays Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Smith was born in Los Angeles, Calif., the son of Harold and Yvonne Smith, and grew up in Philadelphia. He graduated from Philadelphia High School in 1983 and the University of Mississippi in 1988.
He and his wife of 23 years, Missy Smith, lived in Hattiesburg, where he worked for Sunburst Bank until 1992.
Upon returning to Philadelphia, he took over Shelter Insurance Agency. Having learned the convenience store business at Harold's Short Stop, he partnered with his father and opened Harold's West End in 1993. He opened Papa's Pizza in 1997 while continuing to develop commercial property.
More recently, he was excited about the opportunity to open a new business selling wine and spirits here in Philadelphia.
Smith was a member of First United Methodist Church of Philadelphia. He was also an active member of the community and participated in organizations he was passionate about such as, the Adam Byrd Literary Society, the Philadelphia High School Booster Club, the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation and the Masons. He was a lifetime member of the Philadelphia Country Club.
He is survived by his wife, Missy Ingram Smith; three sons, Gregory Latimer Smith, John Harold Wesley Smith and William Morris Smith; his mother, Sonja Yvonne Smith; and two sisters, Janet Smith Hillman and Melody Smith Webb.
He was preceded in death by his father, Harold Lamar Smith; and his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry L. Smith and Mr. and Mrs. James M. Smith.
Pallbearers were John Alford, Wesley Walls, Cecil Price, Jeremy Chalmers, Alvin Kidd, Ray Burrage, Tommy Polk and Steve Molpus.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Philadelphia Athletic Booster Club, P.O. Box 888, Philadelphia, MS 39350.