Ralph Henry Smith, Sr. was born on July 2, 1939 in Athens, Georgia. He was the son of Bazzell Lamar and Emma Huntley Smith. In a family of thirteen children he was the youngest son. His siblings that preceded him in death were Bazzell Lamar Smith, Jr., Robert "Rag" Smith, Horace "Ike" Smith, James Smith, Joe Willie Smith, Richard Smith, Bobby Smith, Katherine "Kathereen" Howard, Nena "Nellie" Thomas, Gilmer "Margie" Parker, Alta Marie Jones, and Harriet Jean "Hatjean" Sparks who all preceded him in death.
Ralph had two childhood nicknames, "Grits," due to his love of grits and "Quarter pass eight" because he always arrived promptly at school at 8:15 am. Throughout his life being on time was important to him. From a young age he was enterprising and enjoyed earning pocket money doing odd jobs. Following graduation from Athens High and Industrial in 1958, he worked as an orderly at the two local hospitals and at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. He decided he wanted to be a doctor but lacked the funds. In 1961 Ralph married Lizzie Ree Barrow of Greene County, Georgia. At the time Ralph was employed by the University of Georgia psychology department as a lab assistant and for extra money he also became a traveling barber. In 1971, Ralph officially opened his upholstery business, Smith's Upholstery Studio on West Broad Street in Athens. It was a fixture on Broad Street for 49 years until 2019 when Ralph was forced to retire due to poor health. Ralph developed an interest in antiques. He would go to local junk and antique shops and travel around Greene County seeking bric-a-brac to sell at his shop or refinish. During his lifetime Ralph enjoyed fishing, cycling around Greene County with his son Ralph, Jr. and cutting firewood for his in-laws wood stove. He raised cattle for a few years. His love for old western films began when he was a boy. He even named his daughter after a character in the 1950 film Broken Arrow. Watching the news, talk shows, Christian programs, and reading the newspaper were some of his favorite past-times.
Ralph Henry Smith, Sr. passed away in his home on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at approximately 9:50 am with his wife and children around him. He is survived by his devoted wife of 60 years, Lizzie, his two children Sincerae and Ralph, Jr. and many nephews, nieces, friends and acquaintances.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ralph H. Smith, Sr., please visit our floral store.