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Obituary for Robert Smith

Robert  Smith
Sergeant Major Robert Allen (R.A.) Smith of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, passed away on October 1st, 2018 surrounded by loved ones in the comfort of his home.

Robert grew up in Jacksonville, Florida where he enjoyed spending time at the Southside Youth Center. It was here that he grew to love sports, becoming accomplished in tennis, boxing, and karate. Robert also loved the ocean and was an avid fisherman. He enjoyed surf fishing, competing in bass tournaments, and running shrimp boats with his two brothers.

Robert was a 23-year veteran of the US Army, serving several combat tours in Vietnam. He was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 7th Special Forces Group, specializing in parachute assault operations. As a Green Beret, he led Long Range Reconnaissance and Patrol units, was a Combat Medic, and spent many months in the field training Montagnards, the indigenous troops of Vietnam. Robert had a special fondness for the Montagnards who were fiercely loyal to him. He not only led them in battle, he embraced their culture and became their friend.

After retiring, Robert enjoyed many hobbies including fishing, golfing and instructing karate. He had a passion for music, singing lead and playing bass and harmonica in a rock-and-roll blues band. Always the entertainer, he would often step off the stage and amuse the crowd with his slick dance moves, shagging well into the night. Robert also had a gig as a disc jockey. Known as “R.A. the D.J,” he entertained crowds from all over with his jokes and engaging personality.

In his later years, Robert became a beloved member of the Rutherfordton community. He could frequently be found swinging “golf bats” at Rutherfordton Golf Course. Rod Blalock, Hugh White and Robert’s son Bob were some of his special golf buddies. Robert also loved supporting his two daughters at sports games and other events throughout their high school and college years. He was famous for doting on his many nieces and nephews, calling them "honeybug" or other pet names and entertaining them with stories about his colorful life. Robert is remembered by all who knew him for his quick wit, his pride in serving his country, his resilience and inner strength, and his unwavering kindness and love for those around him.

Left to cherish Robert’s memory are his wife, Sallie Summey Smith of Rutherfordton, NC; son Robert Allen (Bob) and wife Amy Currie of Monroe, NC; daughter Sarah Morse and husband Milton of Spindale, NC; daughter Laura Morse Koepke and husband Mack of Denver, CO; sister Gloria Rigdon and husband H.A. of Melbourne, FL; brothers Perry and Carroll Winters of Jacksonville, FL; sister-in-law Jane Summey and husband Dale Mullennix of Charlotte, NC; sister-in-law Susan Summey Wilkening and husband Leif of Locust Grove, VA; beloved cousin Clawson Smith of Jacksonville, FL; and a number of nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Robert’s life will be held on Friday, October 5th at Second Baptist Church in Rutherfordton. Receiving of friends will begin at 4:30 PM and the memorial service at 5:30 PM.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Second Baptist Church: 191 Green Street, Rutherfordton, North Carolina, 28139 (http://www.2ndbaptistchurch.net/online-giving/).
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