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1945 James 2020

James Richard Smith

May 21, 1945 — January 15, 2020

Pastor James (Jim) Richard Smith entered into the arms of Jesus on Wednesday, 15 January 2020 at the age of 74. Pastor Jim, also known as Corporal, Husband, Dad, Grandpa, Uncle, and Friend, lived in Davie, Florida with his wife of nearly 52 years, Kathy Smith.

Pastor Jim was born on 21 May 1945 to Vernon and Bessie Smith in Lake Milton, Ohio. He had four older siblings and one younger sibling and they all lived in a tiny little home together. Jim married Kathy in a small ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio on 04 March 1967. Jim graduated high school from Berea Midpark High School. He was an avid clarinet player and went to Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music – where the Cleveland Browns now occasionally hold practices during the preseason.

Jim was of age during the draft for the Vietnam War. When he knew his number was going to be called, he decided he would take his fate into his own hands and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1966. His rationale in selecting the Marines was that he wanted to be with the branch he thought would come back alive. Jim was right. He led twelve men into Vietnam and every single member of his group came home alive. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal in 1972. He remained a proud Marine throughout his life.

Something happened shortly after his return from Vietnam that forever changed the trajectory of the family. He met Jesus and accepted Him as his Lord and Savior. He went on to work for Monroe and then AT&T, but there was something else tugging at his heart. Around 1980 Jim felt Jesus put on his heart to enter ministry. He completed seminary at Ford Bible College at Crystal Springs in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area. He was deeply impacted by the Jesus Movement of the 1970s and the ministry of Calvary Chapel. He appreciated their view on God’s grace and the openness of all types of people worshipping together. He also deeply appreciated a good Hawaiian shirt, jeans, and and pair of sandals, which was often the “uniform” of choice of a Calvary Chapel pastor. Jim knew God was not some stodgy, stuffy, being in the sky, but rather is Someone with whom we can have real relationship – and he wanted to tell others that, too.

After his graduation from seminary, Jim planted Calvary Chapel of Cleveland in North Olmsted, Ohio. He pastored that flock for a number of years until he and the family moved to Florida. Following the time in Florida, the family moved to North Carolina, and Jim temporarily left that pastorate behind for a new mission field – American Airlines. Jim worked for American Airlines until he retired in 2009 after 20 years of service.

Like everywhere else he went, Jim was beloved by his American Airlines colleagues. He eventually moved back to Florida, which is where he finished out his career. Many men and women were deeply impacted by Jim’s kindness and encouragement during his time at American Airlines, especially when he entered the role of Manager.

Upon retirement, Jim and Kathy began attending Calvary Lighthouse UNITED, now The Local Church. Jim faithfully taught the men’s Bible study until his last hospitalization. He also ensured each Thursday night was streamed live via Facebook so men who could not attend would be able to participate. Not only did the men who couldn’t be there physically participate, but other men and women across the globe tuned in – including Jim’s beloved grandson. Other duties at the church included weddings and hospital visits. Jim referred to himself as the “Cradle to Grave Pastor” because he covered it all.

Jim is known for his sense of humor and joy. He was the best grandfather and his children are pretty sure he actually liked his grandson best. His greatest joy, other than Jesus, was to hang out with his GRANDson. They were pizza eating buddies, and had a deep, deep love for a good donut.

Jim is survived by his two children, Tabitha Westbrook of Raleigh, NC, Aaron Smith, of Davie, FL, and his grandson, Isaiah Westbrook of Raleigh, NC. Preceding him in death were his beloved wife, Kathy, parents, Vernon and Betty Smith, and his siblings, Janet, Bob, Bill, and Betty.

As a family, we firmly believe that Jim’s last breath on earth was his first breath in heaven where he was welcomed by our Savior, Jesus. As such, services are a Celebration of Life for him and a “see you later” for his family in Christ.

Services will be at his home church, where he worshipped and led many as pastor in  prayer at Lighthouse Calvary United in Davie, Florida on Saturday at 10:00AM. Friends will be received at the T.M.Ralph Funeral Home 371 NW 136 Avenue Sunrise, Florida on Friday from 4:00-7:00PM.

Burial will be Wednesday, January 29 at South FLorida VA National Cemetery at 10:30 AM.

Arrangements by T.M. Ralph Funeral Home, Sunrise, FL



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Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, January 24, 2020

4:00 - 7:00pm (Eastern time)

T. M. Ralph Funeral Home Sawgrass/Weston

371 NW 136th Ave, Plantation, FL 33325

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Funeral Service

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Starts at 10:00am (Eastern time)

Calvary Lighthouse United

1775 S Flamingo Rd, Davie, FL 33325

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Cemetery Location/Service

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Starts at 10:30am (Eastern time)

South Florida VA National Cemetery

6501 S State Rd 7, Lake Worth, FL 33449

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