Albert Richard Smith passed this life peacefully on Tuesday, August 25, 2020. A. Richard was born on Sunday, June 10, 1928 and spent his 92 years making a difference in the lives of everyone who knew him and many more who did not. While he made each person feel they were most special to him, there was a small group he upheld as the most important people in his life – his family. His faith gave him assurance that his parents Ollie, Sr. and Pauline, his beloved brother (and golfing partner), Ollie, Jr., and his treasured grandson, William “Shane” Carnahan, were waiting for him at a heavenly reunion. The surviving family members, grateful for the wonderful example he set as husband, father, grandfather, and friend, are his gracious and much loved wife of 69 years, Olga Finney Smith, with whom he raised three incredible children, Paula (Clint) Carnahan of York, SC, Eric of Winchester, TN, and Terese (Bill) Burns of Conifer, CO, along with 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
A Tennessean from birth until death, Richard graduated from high school (also the place he met Olga) in 1946, graduated college in 1949, and began mission work in Tullahoma in 1950 while he was in seminary. Newcomers to the area were looking for a Lutheran church in their town, and he was glad to help get something started and then move to the next project after a couple of years. Trinity Lutheran Church became an established church with its first 50 members and its first minister, who remained for 42 years.
Baptisms, weddings, and funerals were expected at any church, but Pastor Smith brought the community to the congregation and the congregation to the community. A friend shared, “He turned Trinity Lutheran Church into much more than just a Sunday morning congregation, hosting the Tullahoma Day Care Center until it built its own building on part of the property, the Mother’s Day Out program, Farmer’s Market, AA programs, and was available for pastoral counseling at any time of the day or night.” When he wasn’t preaching, counseling, or taking care of his family, he could be found at the University of the South in Sewanee, where he taught Greek. What a treasure he has been to so many students of life!
He was known by many names: Richard, Rich, Daddy, Dad, Papa, Pastor Smith, and A. Richard. For those who knew him as a minister, his name was changed a bit by one group of youth in the 1970’s who decided to call him “The Richard Smith” because he was more than one of many, he was The Richard Smith. For those who knew him as their pastor, he was the example of what a minister should be.
As people have discovered of Pastor Smith’s passing, they have been anxious to share how special he was in their lives. If you’ve never known this gentle man, you might enjoy learning of him through their words:
● Thank goodness to have known so fine a person, who was made all the better for the support and love of a woman like Olga, and children like Paula, Eric, and Terese, who shared him with all of us.
● There are “Christians” and there are true Christians, who truly practice the love they preach. The world is a lesser place today because the truest Christian I’ve ever known has left us.
● He was a tremendous influence on me in my life. He was there for my family & me in all the good times & bad for almost all my life. He was the best example of a man living his life as a Christian that I have ever known or hope to know. While I know heaven rejoices at his arrival, I feel his loss most acutely tonight.
● So many memories of the wonderful man that he was and the numerous times that he helped all of the folks in this area.
● Such a very special man that was such a huge part of so many lives. There are no memories of my growing up years where Pastor and family and Trinity Lutheran are not included.
● What an icon. Loved him & his sense of humor.
● Truly a father to all of us who had the great gift of growing up at Trinity under his loving care.
● He was a great influence in my life. I loved Trinity Lutheran and so admired him!
● Pastor Smith was patient, caring, a great teacher, loving, forgiving of my many mistakes, and most of all a great friend.
Pastor Smith was not one to want to be in the limelight, and happily shared the stage with others. “He could draw people out and have them talking about themselves, their work, their family,” one friend shared. While he did like to preach a sermon each Sunday, it seems he would wait until Sunday morning to let the Associate Pastor know which service he would be preaching, leaving the other service for them.
We have covered a lot of the life of A. Richard Smith, and there was more you might not have seen very often – his silly side. He would join in the fun at church camp and youth group, even coming up with his own song to sing: “When you’re up, you’re up, when you’re down, you’re down. Sometimes when you’re up you may be upside-down. But whether down or up, upside-down or down, keep a smile on your face and never a frown.” (Actions were definitely included)
And then there is the most important side of A. Richard Smith. He loved his family, taking a day off on Friday or Saturday to just hang out with his children, and giving Olga a chance to do something else. He enjoyed getting away from the ministry he loved to spend time with the family he loved, traveling away from home to be able to be just Daddy or Dad and later Papa, with no phone to answer.
So many people will miss this remarkable human, perhaps none more than Olga, Doodle-Bug, Cap, and Pee-Wee and their children. He will be missed by so many more who might not have seen him in years but who have valued his presence, his lessons, his patience, and his humor.
A book of memories is being put together, and your story would be a welcome addition. It will take the place of any eulogies, named, in fact ‘Not a Eulogy’ because he was so specific that there be no eulogy. Please send pictures and words to ARichardSmithMemories@gmail.com or mail to A. Richard Smith Memories Trinity Lutheran Church 705 Wilson Avenue Tullahoma, TN 37388.
Because people mattered so much to Pastor Smith, the family has chosen to honor him now through this sharing of memories and at a later time in person with those who wish to celebrate – a time when hugs and tears might be shared more freely and safely.
Please visit our website at www.davesculbertsonfuneralhome.com to leave online condolences. Daves-Culbertson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.