John William Smith

Published 6:58 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

John William Smith, 86, Vicksburg resident, ascended to the Abha Kingdom, next stage of existence, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, after several weeks’ illness. He was a retired educator who was involved locally and nationally in religious, civic and humanitarian activities.

He was one of five children born to Ethel and Leonard Smith in Evanston, Ill. Both parents and two siblings preceded him in death. He attended Catholic schools and upon graduating served dutifully in the U.S. Navy during the Korean war.

After the military service he attended DePaul University, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Education and Administration. His passion for helping others and love of children led him into the school system. He became a teacher and rose to the rank of Assistant Principal in Chicago.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am

The majestic North American Baha’i House of Worship located near his home community captured his attention. After careful investigation and study, he embraced the Baha’i Faith in 1981. He was attracted by the world’s newest independent global belief system that teaches the oneness of God, the unity of humanity and the essential harmony of religion. Baha’is believe in peace, justice, love, altruism and unity. The Baha’i teachings promote the agreement of science and religion, the equality of the sexes and the elimination of all prejudice and racism.

Once he became aware of the Baha’i teachings on education, his interest in and passion for pedagogy intensified. One of his favorite quotes:

The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. “ — Baha’u’llah

Upon achieving the requisite years for retirement in Chicago, he relocated to Vicksburg, where he served more than 10 years in the Vicksburg Warren School District as teacher and elementary principal.

In addition to being highly active in Baha’i Faith activities, he was also active in the greater community having served as President of the Vicksburg NAACP; President of the Vicksburg chapter of AARP, member of the State Executive Council of AARP Mississippi; member and Chairman of the Retired Education Personnel of Vicksburg Warren School District; Chairman of the Board for the Vicksburg-Tallulah Airport Authority; and member of the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation in Vicksburg.

He leaves to cherish his memory his beloved wife of 61 years, Alma Irwin Smith; three sons, Kirk A. Smith of Chicago, Ill.; Kyle E. Smith (Merry) of Hutto, Texas and Kevin Smith of Vicksburg; nine grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; one brother, Richard Smith of Chicago; two sisters, Ethel Mae Smith of Chicago and Adelyn Blakey of DeKalb, Ill.; and a host of other relatives and friends.

The family is requesting that donations be given to your favorite charities in lieu of flowers.