Melvin's Story

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Melvin Wayne Smith departed this life for the next on May 24, 2017, at Folsom Rehabilitation Center in Cullman, peacefully, quietly, and in the presence of his loving family.
Melvin was born on Dec. 20, 1928, in the front bedroom of his parents' house in the Oak Level community, Cullman County, to John Edward and Elvie Beatrice Hendrix Smith.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Roberta Lucille Williams Smith; and a grandson, Josiah Benjamin Smith.
Melvin married Roberta Lucille Williams Smith on June 24, 1952, in Angleton Texas. He is the father of four sons, John Edward Smith MD (Rebecca), Robert Wayne Smith MD (Jan), Joel Stuart Smith MS (Amanda), and Melvin Charles Smith PhD. He is the grandfather of 23 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
From son, John: Amy Marie Smith; David Matthew Smith (Christi) and their children, Rebecca Elise, Amelia Claire, Adelaide Grace and Evaline Sophia; Bonnie Rebecca Smith; John Edward Smith (Bonnie) and their children, Gabriel Lewis and June Lucille; Stephen Michael Smith (Keirsten) and their son, Josiah Benjamin; Zachary Scott Smith (Jen); Thomas Melvin Smith (Amanda); Katherine Elizabeth Rosenbaum (Ben); Luke Isaac Smith; Susanna Martha Smith; and Emily Rose Smith.
From son Robert: Samuel Robert Smith (Victoria); Anna Ariel Floyd (Trevor) and their children, Caleb Samuel and Cora Zoe; Benjamin Austin Smith; Abigail Caitlin Smith; Mary Ellen Smith; Sarah Catherine Smith; Rebekah Joy Smith; and Gloria Elisabeth Smith.
From son Joel: Jacob Stuart Smith (Amy) and daughters, Jordan Kate and Kylie Beth; Meghan Elizabeth Nelson (Chad) and their children, River Isabel and Rhys Patrick; Amanda Michelle Moody (Ben) and their children, Kaitlynn Faith and Logan Charles.
He is survived also by numerous cousins.
Melvin graduated from Cullman High School in 1947. He earned an Associate of Science degree from St. Bernard College in 1949, then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Administration from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (later Auburn University) in 1951. He was drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War. Following his military service and honorable discharge, he earned a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University in 1958, followed by a PhD from the Ohio State University in 1960. He taught briefly at St. Bernard College in Cullman before accepting a tenure-track position at Samford University in Birmingham, as a Professor of Marketing and Statistics. He retired from Samford as a full professor in 1988 and was subsequently named Professor Emeritus. In 1950, he became a member of the Alpha Zeta Agricultural Professional fraternity, was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi academic honor society, and earned membership in the Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society in Agriculture. He joined the Alpha Kappa Psi professional fraternity in 1966 and was tapped for Phi Gamma Mu National Social Science Honor Society in 1968. He was also the recipient of a post-doctoral Ford Fellowship.
In addition to his full-time occupation as a university professor, Melvin worked full-time as a farmer and full-time as a business owner in Cullman County. With the help of his wife and four sons and numerous hired hands, he raised a variety of truck crops and row crops, becoming a regular fixture at the farmers' markets in Birmingham and Atlanta, Ga. At the same time, he built up a thriving country meat processing and retail outlet, Smith Farms, that specialized in curing hams and bacon and making the best smoked sausage known to man. Thousands of hams and tons of sausages per year passed through the doors of the retail outlet located on the family farm on U.S. Highway 278 East.
Melvin was a member of First Baptist Church, Cullman, for over 40 years. A respected member of the congregation, he served in faithful attendance and giving, as a deacon, as a Sunday School and Training Union teacher, and on numerous committees during his years there.
Melvin was devoted to his family. He and Roberta were married for over 63 years, supporting each other though hard times and good times alike. He accepted every challenge with a singleness of purpose and never wasted an hour, much less a day. When he went to bed at night he slept soundly, knowing that he had done everything that could have been done during the preceding day. One of his favorite phrases was "every time you think about it, hurry up!"
He raised four sons and taught them the values of hard work and honest dealing, both by example; there are few men who ever worked harder than Melvin Smith. Dad lived 88 powerful years and the hardest thing now is going to be getting used to a world that doesn't have him in it. He was an elemental force.
He was frugal in his expenses, yet generous in his giving. Christmas was his favorite holiday, as he and Roberta lined up all of their sons, and then later the sons and their wives, and then still later the sons and wives and all the grandchildren, giving each one a gift and a blessing. Both came from the heart. We miss you, Dad. More than these mere words can say.
Visitation for family and friends will be held at Cullman Funeral Home, 461 U.S. Highway 278 East from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, 2017.
The funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, 2017, at First Baptist Church, 501 2nd Ave South, Cullman. Dr. Rick Lance and Dr. Tom Richter will officiate the service. A graveside ceremony will follow immediately at Oak Level Baptist Church Cemetery, Cullman.
The family notes that flowers are welcome, or donations may instead be made to his favorite charities: Heifer International; Child Fund; and World Hunger.
Published on May 25, 2017
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