05/11/06 - NNHS Newsletter - Robert Smith

Robert Lee Smith, Jr.
(1946 -  9 May 2006)

Newport News High School Class of 1965


Dear Friends and Schoolmates,   

   We have some sad - and somewhat startling - news today. 

   I saw the following obituary published in the Daily Press this morning, but I had thought that "our" Robert Smith had died in Vietnam on March 4, 1966, at the age of 20 while serving there with the United States Marine Corps.

   For several reasons, it seemed to me that this was actually the Robert Smith that we had known, instead of that young Marine.       

   So I asked    Dave Spriggs ('64 - of VA) to work his magic and find the truth for us.  I knew he was uniquely qualified to do so, not only because of his amazing detective skills, but because he and Bob had been good friends in their youth.


  From Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/11/06:

Hmmmm ..... that is a poser.  My first stop will be the Norfolk Library to consult the NN Hill's Directories for 1963/64/65.  I will see if the parents' names listed in the obit are the same ones listed on Marshall Avenue in Newmarket. If so, then we have a (sur)real problem on our hands.....

I am on the case.....

The only explanation would be if there were two "Robert Lee Smith, Jr." born ca. 1945/1946 and living on the Peninsula.  I suppose it is possible.

Again, the proof will be found in the Hill's Directory. The one thing we know to be true is that OUR Bob Smith lived on Marshall Avenue in 1963-1965.


  From Me of NC - 05/11/06:

   Thank you so much for checking on this, David. I did originally get my information from The Virtual Wall. The first time I saw it, I refused to accept that it was the same one (big surprise there, right?). When I looked at the 1965 Anchor, it said only "Robert Smith", which provided enough reasonable doubt for me.

   Several years later, I looked at our commencement program, and found listed therein, "Robert Lee Smith, Jr." As his father was a Greyhound bus driver who always drove one of the three band buses we used for major trips, I already knew that his dad's name was also "Bob".

   So even though that young Marine was born a year before I had thought Robert was, I concluded that it must be the same man. I scanned his senior portrait on 11/24/02, so it must have been then. And I recall being very upset that his life had been cut so short.

   Thank you again for taking care of this. I know now that the truth, whatever it is, will be found. As this funeral will be held at noon on Saturday, it's possible that more of his friends would be able to attend, than had it been held on a weekday, if you find that to be the case.

  From Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/11/06:

Mystery Solved!!! But it will be a tad embarrassing for you.

The 1963 NN Hill's Directory lists Robert Lee & Minnie Smith as residing at 5939 Marshall Avenue, which is the home I visited several times. It is now certain that "our" Bob Smith died last Tuesday.

While I was at the library, I found today's Daily Press, and copied the obit, which included a photo:
  If only Bob had found the Site, he could have told us that reports of his death were premature.

So, just who was this "other" Robert Lee Smith, Jr. from NN who was killed in VN? Well, I can't answer that, but I will tell you that in 1963 there were 9 additional listings in Hill's for "Robert L. Smith", any one of whom may have been the father of the deceased Marine.

The Daily Press, Thursday, May 11, 2006

  From Me of NC - 05/11/06:

   David, I can hardly tell you how grateful I am to you for this confirmation; the embarrassment I can handle.  As the day progressed, I knew in my heart this would be the answer. The music for this Memorial Newsletter even popped into my head, courtesy of my Magic Shower.  Thank you again - so very much - for all your efforts.

   As for my embarrassment, it and I are old friends.  I'm very glad to know that Robert had thirty more years upon this earth - which he obviously lived to their fullest. 

   I have very fond memories of Robert from our days together in the Newport News High School Band.  He always called me "Beautiful" - never "Carol".  He even signed my Anchors that way.  After a time I came to realize that he meant that, and it meant a great deal to me, as I had always been such an ugly duckling.

   I wish we had reconnected during these last six years, as so many of us now have.  It would have been  fun.  My deepest sympathies are extended to his family.


From the Daily Press - 05/11/06:

Robert Lee Smith Jr.  


NEWPORT NEWS - Robert Lee Smith Jr., 'Bob' to his friends and family, passed away at the age of 59, on Tuesday, May 9, 2006, after a lengthy illness. Bob was the only child of Robert Lee Smith Sr. and Minnie McKinney Smith. Born and raised on the Peninsula, he moved to Aurora, Colo., for 18 years before returning home to Newport News. He liked reptiles and at a young age earned the nickname 'Snake.' At 16, he underwent open heart surgery to overcome three congenital heart defects. During that time, he made a profession of Christian faith. Bob retired from C&P Telephone and U.S. West after 30 years of faithful service. Most recently, he was employed with Home Depot. Bob played guitar in the band, 'The Starlets,' and enjoyed many other hobbies including skydiving, bowling, skiing, horseback riding, golf, hunting, fishing, motorcycles, scuba diving, model building, cruise vacations, and he was an avid Denver Broncos fan, holding season tickets at Mile High Stadium for 13 years. Recently, he earned his sailing license and was a member of ASA. On Dec. 26, 2005, Bob found forgiveness and hope for eternal life in rededicating his life to Jesus Christ. Bob will be missed by his family, friends and good neighbors. He is survived by two children from his marriage to Mary Elizabeth 'Beth' Booker. They include his daughter, Laura M. Russnow and husband, Matthew, of Newport News, and son, Brian C. Smith and wife, Monica, of Norfolk; five grandchildren, William, Jordan, Miranda, Regan and Elisha; as well as numerous cousins and other extended family. The family will receive friends from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 12, at Peninsula Funeral Home. A funeral service will be conducted at noon Saturday at the funeral home, officiated by Brian C. Smith. Burial will follow in Peninsula Memorial Park.

Published in the Daily Press on 5/11/2006.
Guest Book
Fall of 1963

Dear Laura, Matt and family,
Bob was such a wonderful friend to us. His sense of humor, his jokes, his tales of his cruises, sailing, and life in general, can never be forgotten. We had so much fun at the Depot, or out for a drink or on the phone. I know he will keep the Heavens laughing. We will miss him.... yesterday after we chatted, I left the Depot for awhile, on the radio when I got in the car... the song "Don't forget to remember me" was on the radio.... Bob always had a way of getting his point across. Love and hugs,
Angee and Wayne Torrence
Angee & Wayne Torrence (Grafton, VA ) - May 11, 2006
You will definitely be missed, Bob. You were a great friend - we had many laughs together. I will miss you - Love, Kelly
My thoughts and (prayers) are with your family.
Kelly Wroten (Yorktown, VA ) - May 11, 2006
What a blessing it has been to have been friends with such a loving, and comedic person. I will never forget all of the fun we had in Pro Sales and the Electrical Dept. @ the Home Depot. Bob and I shared some of the best private jokes ever! I will miss the way he would try and brighten my day with a hug, his Hooters stories, and his shoulder massages. I will miss him dearly.
Lisa Thornton (Gloucester, VA ) - May 11, 2006
Robert...Bob...you were a good neighbor and good friend to everyone. I enjoyed knowing Bob during high school-we both played in the trumpet section in the band, and never forgot him, even though we all scattered after graduation.
Jimmy Hines (Woodbridge, VA ) - May 12, 2006
Dear Family,

Oh, how I'll miss him. His sense of humor, his stories and kindness. He was a true gentleman and a lovely man. I've loved him for many years and feel truly blessed to have called him my friend. I'm sorry I didn't find out soon enough to attend the services but my thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Kim West (St. Albans, WV ) - May 13, 2006

   This information is also posted in the Class In Memoriam pages:



   Again, our sincerest sympathies are extended to Robert's family.

   From Cathy Slusser Hudson ('64) of VA - 05/11/06:

Hi Carol: 

It was with great sadness that I read of Bob Smith's passing. I believe that he lived in Seven Oaks Apartments when he was in elementary school and part of high school. His apartment faced Marshall Avenue and was about half way down the block on the right just before you got to the Railroad Tracks. I lived on 36th Street and my back door faced the Court yard just behind his apartment. As I remember he liked snakes and reptiles and had several in his apartment. He was always a quiet person and didn't play outside much, or hang around with us rough necks much. His family was always very nice....

I'm sure that Robert will be missed by a lot of folks that knew him....
Cathy Hudson

   Thank you so much, Cathy.  I'm certain that he will.


  From Joe Wingo, President of the Class of 1965, of NC - 05/12/06:

Dear Carol,

Sad to read about Bob Smith. I remember him, like    Dave (Spriggs - '64 - of VA), from the "hood" .Also, I must add that I can fully understand Bob addressing you as "Beautiful" and you provide evidence of that daily.....

   Thank you, Joe.  That's very sweet of you.


  From Jimmy Hines ('64) of Northern VA - 05/12/06:

..... Robert was a good friend, a great guy, and his dad was a really nice person who was a friend to the Typhoon Band, and everyone in the band......

   Thank you, Jimmy, that's all quite true.


   Y'all take good care of each other!  TYPHOONS FOREVER!

                          Love to all, Carol


NNHS CLASS OF '65 WEB SITE: http://www.nnhs65.00freehost.com

PERSONAL WEB SITE: http://www.angelfire.com/weird2/cluckmeat


Oh, How I Love Jesus

Words by Frederick Whitfield; Traditional American Melody

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in my ear,
The sweetest name on earth.

Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me of a Saviour's love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner's perfect plea.

It tells me what my Father hath,
In store for every day,
And tho' I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe,
Who in each sorrow bears a part,
That none can bear below.

"Oh, How I Love Jesus" midi (as played by Joy Hardin) courtesy of http://www.blessedquietness.com/journal/musicpg.htm - 05/11/06

"Oh, How I Love Jesus" lyrics courtesy of http://www.tabslyricschords.com/MostlyChristian/Oh,%20How%20I%20Love%20Jesus%20(There%20is%20a%20Name).TXT - 05/11/06

Greg Olsen Paintings courtesy of http://gregolsengallery.com 01/27/05

Blackwork Flowers Divider Line clip art courtesy of http://www.bravenet.com - 08/12/04

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