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Sammie Smith

Sammie Smith

June 3rd, 1932 - October 19th, 2021

Sammie's Obituary

Sammie Smith, age 89, passed away peacefully at home on October 19, 2021 with the love of his life, Jolita Allene Smith, standing by his side. Sammie was born on June3, 1932, to the union of Ruben Smith and Idella (Brooks) Smith. Sammie was born in Helena, Arkansas and spent some of his early life in St Louis, MO.

As a young man he moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan around eight years of age and attended Bard Elementary School, Benton Harbor Junior High, and Benton Harbor High School graduating in June 1951. Shortly after graduation he joined the United States Air Force where he became a certified Airplane Mechanic. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force on June 6, 1960. In 1958, he married the Queen of his heart, Allene Whitfield. To this union three children, Jolita Darlene, Leontyne Collene and Christopher Michael (died at birth) were born.

Sammie attended Lake Michigan Community College where he received an associate degree in mathematics. He was employed at Wilder’s Drug store, I&M Electric and proudly served for 30 plus years as the first African American Director of the Benton Harbor and Benton Township Housing Commission. Sammie served as the president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). He served on the board of the Regional Chapter of NAHRO and on the National Housing Committee. He was the recipient of national awards for his work in public housing. He was the recipient of the Charles Thompson Award, which is the highest award given by the Michigan Chapter of NAHRO. 

Upon his retirement and because of his professional contribution, the family investment center on Martin Luther King Drive was named in his honor, The Sammie Smith Family Investment Center. Sammie loved to fish, camp and was an avid golfer. He traveled around the country participating in many golf tournaments. He was a member of various social clubs in Benton Harbor including The Insets,18 Club, The Old Timers Club and was the commander of the American Legion Post410 Sammie was a long-standing member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

He leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 64years, Jolita Allene, two daughters Jolita (Maurice) Burton of Benton Harbor, Michigan; Leontyne (James) Hines of Jackson, Michigan; a bonus daughter Charase (Alvin) Dorsey of Benton Harbor, Michigan; four grandchildren Imyn Burton; Marcellus (Shakina) Burton; Joseph Hines and Alyse Hines, three bonus grandchildren Michael Hawkins, Ashley Dorsey and Kellie Dorsey; thirteen bonus grandchildren, three great-grandchildren Marcellus Jr., Malia and Jesse Burton, two sisters-Ruby (Leroy) Earvin & Surphonia (Walter) Pitts, and a host of nieces nephews and friends.

It is significantly noted that he was considered a community granddad to a host of other grandsons and daughters.A Celebration of Homegoing Service will be held11:00 A.M. Saturday, October 23, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church, 475 Green St., Benton Harbor, with Rev. Scott Paul-Bonham officiating.  Private burial with full military honors will take place at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, MI.  Friends may visit with the family from 10:00until 11:00 A.M. Saturday at the Church. Memorial donations in Sammie’s name may be made to Caring Circle Hospice in St. Joseph. 

Those wishing to sign Sammie’s Memory Book online may do so at www.starks-menchinger.com.

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