J. Paul Smith, 89, died peacefully on March 7, 2018.
J. Paul was born to Matt and Clara Tanner Smith of Cumberland County. He was a 1946 graduate of Cumberland County High School. When his father passed away, Paul was 16 years old and still in high school. He took over the farm in the Mayland community and followed in his father's footsteps. He began with the "small family farm" in the 1940s and has continually added acreage to make it the large farm that it is today.
His career began not just as a farmer, but as a construction worker working in South Carolina, Oak Ridge and Flynn Construction in Crossville. He continued expanding the farm as he began his construction and excavating business. J. Paul Smith Construction began in 1960 with its first employee, dozer operator Billy Bob Pugh, followed by grader operator Odie Griffin and his chief mechanic, Earl Pugh. As the construction business was rapidly growing, so was the farm. It grew to several thousand acres and J. Paul was farming Hereford beef cattle, snap beans, soybeans and corn, all the while running one of the largest excavating companies in the region.
Over the years, J. Paul was instrumental in the construction of most of the golf courses in Cumberland County, even though he never swung a golf club. As if these two massive enterprises were not enough to keep him busy, in the mid 1980s, he purchased the land where the old Crossville Raceway was located in the Creston community, and in 1986, J. Paul opened the brand new Crossville Raceway, a high banked, third mile NASCAR racing facility. Fans from all over the southeast enjoyed exciting dirt car racing every Friday night, and the facility hosted NASCAR legends, such as Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Kyle Petty and Ken Shrader.
J. Paul has served on many boards and numerous organizations. He served on the Production Credit Association Board and the University of Tennessee Agriculture Development Board in Knoxville. J. Paul and his wife, Dean, were world travelers, having visited many countries over the years. He enjoyed traveling immensely, and his favorite trips were those hosted by farming organizations. J. Paul was a faithful member of the Mayland Church of Christ for over 70 years. If you knew him very well, you knew he was a Christian first and foremost above everything else. During the last few years of his life, he was no longer row cropping but was still farming with his 700 beef cattle and Mama Dean's two llamas. J. Paul was a farmer for over seven decades.
As we mourn this great loss, we are also reminded of his love, kindness and sense of humor. He was a generous man, a friend to many and one who freely gave hours of his time- oftentimes deeply behind the scenes. However, of all his many accomplishments, J. Paul's proudest, and what he considered greatest achievement was his church and family, each and every one of whom will miss him beyond what any amount of words could ever hope to express.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Matt Smith and Clara Tanner Smith.
Survivors include his wife, Dean; daughter, Paulette (George Jr.) Hamilton of Dunlap; grandchildren, Wayne Hall of Frankfurt, Germany, Jody (Brad) Boynton of Dunlap, and George III (Madison) Hamilton of Dunlap. Also surviving are two great granddaughters, Hope and Josie Boynton of Dunlap and Rex (Pat) Tanner of Crossville, who was like a son to them. He is also survived by a sister, Alise McCrary of Mt. Juliet.
The body will lie in state at the Crossville Church of Christ on Main Street on Saturday, March 10, 2018, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with burial at Mayland Cemetery. Family requests memorials to Freed Hardeman University, Office of Dev. Mem., 158 East Main St., Henderson, TN 38340.
Published on March 8, 2018