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Henry Colbert Smith, Sr. passed away peacefully on July 22, 2020 at age 90 at his Whitemarsh Island home.

Henry was born in Brunswick, Georgia on August 31, 1929 to Mr. and Mrs. George Sumpter Smith. When he was young the family moved to Savannah. He graduated from Savannah High School, class of 1947, where he met the love of his life, and wife of 69 years, Margaret Ward Sipple.

A huge influence in Henry’s childhood was the summers he spent with his loving grandparents on their tobacco and peanut farm in Cairo, Georgia. He learned the value of hard work and responsibility through his chores, which included feeding the chickens, gathering eggs, harvesting tobacco, and working in the drying barns. He also developed his love of nature and the ability to build and repair most anything that the farm work required, a skill he would use throughout his life.

After receiving his Associate Degree from Armstrong College in 1949, he joined the U.S. Navy. That same year in August, he enrolled in the Naval Aviation Cadet School in Pensacola, Florida. After receiving his wings on May 2, 1951, he and Margaret walked across the quad to the Naval Air Station Chapel where they were married. His advanced flight training took them to Corpus Christi, TX, Key West, FL, Sanford, FL and Jacksonville, FL, where he trained to be a night fighter pilot. He served on the following Naval Aircraft Carriers: the USS Leyte, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Midway, USS Cabot, and the USS Wright.  During his Navy Aviation career, he flew the Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, Vought F4U-1D Corsair, and Douglas A-1 Skyraider. By the end of his service Henry had flown over 400 day missions and 44 night missions. Henry often said, “You never get used to night landings on a carrier.  Each time you land at night, it feels like the first time.”

After the Navy, he received a BS in Accounting and Transportation from the University of Tennessee, an impressive accomplishment considering he had three children and three jobs while attending college. Henry and his family returned to Savannah where he worked with his father at Arrow Bekins Van Lines. Upon his father’s retirement, Henry purchased the company and successfully expanded the business.

Henry lived his life devoted to God, family, country and education. He believed that education was the key to all doors and was strongly committed to providing higher education for his five children. He was a member of Epworth United Methodist Church where he served in numerous capacities for fifty years. After moving to Whitemarsh Island he transferred his membership to Wilmington Island United Methodist.

As a humble servant of God, Henry quietly did acts of goodness over and over with no expectation of recognition. He was a man of simple needs with a tremendous sense of giving, especially to the underprivileged. He served as president of Wesley Community Center and United Way Board of Directors.  He also served as Chairman of the United Way Finance division. While overseeing the funding he spent several days and nights as a homeless person in the shelters of Savannah to understand the problems of the people he was trying to serve and to ensure that the needs of the poor were being met.

Henry was a Renaissance man with many diverse hobbies and interests. During his years of night flying, he developed a great love for the stars, planets, and moon. While pursuing this passion he designed and built reflector telescopes. He ground the lenses and curved the mirrors by hand. His family fondly remembers viewing the night skies with their father from their home. He even went so far as to paint part of the streetlight black to diminish the light pollution for better viewing and photographing of astronomical events. He later donated his largest telescope to Oatland Island.

In his fifties, he began competitive cycling. He enjoyed building European racing bikes and came in second in the state of Georgia in a 100 mile race for his age division. He enjoyed sketching and oil painting, building and flying model airplanes, and attending the Blue Angels air shows. He was an accomplished musician, playing piano, organ, and trumpet. He played the trumpet in the Savannah High School band. With many companions over many years, he fished and explored the salt marshes with skill and wonder. He loved cooking Sunday night suppers for his family and grandchildren. He was a blessed man due to his godly walk on earth.

Henry is survived by his five children: Henry Colbert Smith, Jr., (Dorothy), Carol Smith Lewis (Curtis), Margaret Smith Judkins (Holland), Donna Ruth Smith, all of Savannah; Kay Smith Weber (Daniel) of Atlanta, Georgia; ten grandchildren, Benjamin Alexander Smith (Heather), Stuart Ward Smith (Lauryn), Philip Andrew Smith, Marshall Julian Weber, Kathleen Nicole Weber, Dr. Caroline Michaux Lewis Stovall (Brady), Julius Curtis Lewis IV (Caroline), Henry Smith Lewis, Henry Colbert Judkins, Holland Ball Judkins IV; great-grandsons, Lukas Jericho Smith, Duncan Rodriguez Smith, and several nieces and cousins.

He was predeceased by his wife, his parents, his sister, Sue Smith Anderson, and one granddaughter, Joanna Nell Smith.

The family is especially grateful to Dora Shepard, Pearl Bolton, Lilar Benton, and Carolyn Milton for their devotion. The family would also like to thank Hospice Savannah, Dr. Robert Rollings, Dr. Timothy Daugherty and Memorial Health University Medical Center for their loving care.

With concern for the health and safety of family and friends, a private graveside funeral service will be held at Bonaventure Cemetery, conducted by the Reverend William G. Hester, his lifelong friend in Christ.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests consideration of memorial donations to Hospice Savannah, Inc., 1352 Eisenhower Drive, Savannah, GA 31406, or to United Way of the Coastal Empire, 428 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

You are invited to view the funeral service of Henry Colbert Smith, Sr. by clicking here.

Online Condolences

  1. Nathan C. Godley says:

    My deepest sympathy to all of you. Henry was such a fine man and a very positive influence in my life. I will always be grateful for his friendship and for his positive out look on life. I looked up to him as a child and respected him as an adult. He blessed my life in many ways. I know he is glad to be back with Margaret again. Our prayers are for all of you. Nathan and Patty Godley

  2. Mary Alice Garvin says:

    My deepest sympathy to each of you. H.C. was a very special friend to me and my family. He was truly a “silent disciple’ of God, as he did many acts of good deeds for all mankind. I’m sure God will welcome him to his eternal home and say “well done thy good and faithful servant”. My prayers will be with you during this difficult time.

  3. Greg and Terry Barker says:

    So sorry for your loss. Mr Smith was a wonderful man and role model. I always enjoyed him as my Sunday School teacher at Epworth. I know he will be greatly missed. Prayers for the family.

  4. James and Betty Meeks says:

    Our friendship began at Epworth Church when we were both 10 years old. His father George was our Sunday-School teacher at Epworth. We had many happy years together there, and in middle and high school. Also memorable were the many bicycle rides we made together in the Savannah area. After graduating from high school we went our separate ways, he in the Navy and I in the Airforce. We still maintained contact by writing letters to one another. Later years have meant lesser contact since I and Betty have lived in the Atlanta area and he and Margaret lived in the Savannah area. H. C. will be sadly missed by all who knew him.. Our prayers go out to the family.

  5. Ernesto Domínguez says:

    We are so sorry for your lose we are here for anything you need. We will be praying for the family

  6. Jeff & Becky Endsley says:

    Sending our sympathy and prayers for your family.

  7. beth and jim fry says:

    kay and family, what a wonderful legacy and memory of a beautiful and loving dad! He sounds like he loved life and lived it to the fullest! great example for us all! love and prayers for peace to you and your family . we love you and yours! beth and Jim

  8. Zachary Giebner says:

    Uncle HC was always a wonderfully kind and awesome great uncle to me. I’m totally sure he is happy to be with my Nana and Papa again. Love ya, family….Zak

  9. Gil Stacy says:

    Dear Bert,
    I was saddened to read of your dad’s passing, but at the same time uplifted by reading about the life of the man I knew. I admired your dad’s never sit still energy and intellect with its power and curiosity. He was generous to me and I learned a lot about our shared passion of telescope making from him. Back in the day, I’d drop by the old Bekin’s warehoue in the Old Fort section of town to chat and I have a vivid image of him over more than a quarter of a century ago, standing tall and fit in a white tee shirt and khakis while working. These old fellas we called “dad” are the men by their quiet example who helped calibrate our moral compasses. You had a great one. You and your family are on my mind and in my heart and prayers.
    With Deepest Condolences,

  10. Roger Turner says:

    As we all walk thru this life here on earth, most of the people we meet along the way will never find total peace and contentment from knowing who we are and exactly what we stand for.
    The wonderful times and memories I shared with Henry Smith, has come to the surface, as I have read these scriptures.
    Psalms 112
    Praise the Lord.
    Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
    who find great delight in his commands.
    Their children will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
    Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures forever.
    Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
    Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.
    Surely the righteous will never be shaken.

    John 14 .2
    Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
    Billy Graham [reference from Unto the Hills] expanded upon this passage to say when we as Christians die, we go straight to that mansion in Heaven to spend eternity with God.
    So I say, as you look at the riches and wealth of Henry C Smith, look at his incredible family and the influence he had upon so many people thru humble understanding and examples and the love for his family.
    We all know, we bring nothing into this world. We take nothing with us when we leave. Only the good and important stuff can remain.
    I am positive that Henry is with his beautiful wife, Margaret today, living in that Mansion that God has prepared for them
    Savannah Ga will always hold a very special place in my heart because of the Smith Family.

    Much love,
    Roger Turner

  11. Carolyn Milton & Staff of HWLC says:

    To the Family of Mr. Henry C. Smith, Sr.:

    Please accept our heartfelt condolences at this difficult time. We hope that each of you take comfort in how much good Henry did here on earth and the wide influence of his strong values that can still be found in his community. Henry touched so many lives and impressed us all with his strength in spirit, his selflessness, his caring and love of others, his community and country. Psalm 91, he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
    We pray that Henry’s legacy lives on, in the good he did for this community, and in the lives of everyone he touched. It is obvious that your family was very fortunate to have Henry in your lives. May you cherish the warmest memories that you all share forever. We cannot express enough the sorrow we have for all of you. Your family will always have our support, love and friendship.

    With our deepest condolences,

    Carolyn Milton and the Staff of Handle With Loving Care, LLC

  12. Elton Hoffman says:

    Dear Kay, I was saddened to hear of your Dads passing. Henry and I were Sunday School buddies as you know. We had many topics of discussion prior too and after Sunday School. What a wonderful friend he was and will remain in my mind. Henry very seldom spoke of his accomplishments. Only after someone would ask him about his flying days did he speak of it. Our main topic of discussion was fishing, which he loved and golf which I loved and he enjoyed hearing how I have been playing. I will always cherish those days. May God bless you and your family.

  13. Carmel & Phil Hearn says:

    Bert, Kay, Carol, Peggy & Donna – our deepest sympathy on the passing of your father. He was such a “larger than life” figure to me, mainly because he modeled humility as perfectly as anyone I have ever known. I will always remember when he “walked the walk” by living as a homeless person. This act most certainly rippled through many lives as it did mine. He was a blessing in so many ways and I am grateful to have been able to visit with him when he was still healthy a few years ago at the Epworth Reunion. We are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Carmel & Phil

  14. Carl Pedigo says:

    Henry was a wonderful neighbor who I wish I had known better. Loved to learn about his many interests in the obituary. I will miss him stopping by in his vehicle and spending time catching up in the driveway. We need many more Henrys.

  15. Del Campo family says:

    What a beautiful like to uplift and celebrate! Sending you all our love,

    Tony, Kelly, Michael, and Corina Del Campo

  16. Sam Youngblood says:

    Condolences to all of you. I am truly glad to have know H.C.

    May he rest in peace.


  17. Miriam Center says:

    Dear Bert,
    How sorry to hear of your loss. What an amazing father you had. I send you my loving heart
    Miriam Center

  18. Chester S. Spell says:

    I knew him through his considerable achievements in telescope making. As a teen, I would call him with my many questions about mirror making and optics. He was always generous with his time and helped me a lot. In fact he helped me make a telescope I still use to this day, showing my kids the stars, thus being part of his legacy. Remembering my many trips to the Bekins warehouse to see his scopes and talk to him, a wonderful man.

  19. Joan Hester Byrd says:

    H.C. Smith was just a “special kind” of person, a delight!
    If H.C. was visiting Asbury Memorial, I always tried to speak to him.
    H.C. was always a breath of sunshine;
    he was “faith” personified!
    He, Margaret, and their children meant a great deal to my children as they grew up.
    “H.C., thanks for passing our way.”

    Joan Hester Byrd and family

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