Community leaders remember Smith
by Robert Joseph Baker | August 17, 2017 4:40 pm
They simply don’t make men like Hugh Smith anymore.
That was the sentiment offered by Patrick Goodwin on Thursday about his longtime friend. Smith, a Turbeville native, died Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017.
“He was, first and foremost, a gentleman,” said Goodwin. “He was not ashamed of being a child of God or of his relationship with the Lord.”
Goodwin said that Smith was an excellent mentor for young people, particularly those who served in his employment at the Turbeville IGA.
Smith began his career in the grocery business at a young age, starting with bagging groceries in 1979 at the store he would one day own and operate.
A 1984 graduate of Winthrop University holding a degree in business administration, he became the store’s manager after college. He earned 25 perent of the store’s ownership after working there several years and then bought the business with a partner from the owner after the latter’s retirement. He bought the partner out in the early 1990s.
Ann Graham has served as the IGA bookkeeper for 33 years.
“He was the most honest and the most friendly man I ever knew,” she said. “He was the best friend I ever had. I couldn’t tell you everything good that he was.”
Graham said that Smith had an inimitable personality that people were drawn to.
“He knew each person by name and always made eye contact,” said Graham. “He always looked after other people’s interests. He was very honest and lived life to the fullest. I could just go on and on.”
Former Turbeville Mayor Jeannie Turbeville said that there were few events in the community in which Smith wasn’t involved.
“He was a month older than my son; I’ve known Hugh since he was born,” she said. “He was always active in the community. There’s pretty much nothing that he wasn’t involved with.”
One of those activities included coaching youth sports, she said.
“He was always active in sports,” she said. “He was involved as a youth himself and when he was an adult, he coached the youth.”
Goodwin said that Smith was the type of person who “was not afraid to roll up his sleeves and do what needed to be done.”
“He was the type of person that whatever needs to be done, let’s get it done,” said Goodwin. “He was the same way everywhere.”
Goodwin and Smith worked on several committees together, including those for the Puddin’ Swamp Festival, Clarendon County Dancing with the Stars and the Turbeville Business Association.
“If he wasn’t there personally, he was there financially,” said Goodwin. “If you needed sweat equity, he was right there helping along with everyone else.”
Lifelong friend and Clarendon County Dancing with the Stars founder and organizer Cheryl Wingard agreed.
“He was probably one of the most caring and compassionate people I’ve ever known,” she said. “He always put other people first. I feel like when we lost him yesterday, a part of me left with him. We grew up together. It was very devastating for the community>.”
“He’s always been the biggest sponsor, the biggest everything for any event,” she said. “He just can’t be replaced.”