James Ferrel Smith
Dr. James Ferrel Smith, 91, passed onto Glory on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. He leaves behind sisters, Betty Lou Smith Cockcroft of Andalusia, Ala., and Sybil Smith King of Andalusia, Ala.; children, Elizabeth McKinney (Ed) of Winter Garden, Fla., Kay Sanders of Troy, Ala., Al Smith (Bethanne) of St. Cloud, Fla., and Amy Morgan (Pete) of Winter Garden, Fla.; grandchildren, Sara Beth Hopton of Boone, N.C., Amanda Harris of Altamonte Spring, Fla., Adam Sanders (Ashley) of Ozark, Ala., Katie Sanders Thomas (Stewart) of Troy, Ala., Alex Sanders (Misti) of Elba, Ala., Aaron Smith of St. Cloud, Fla., Shauna Smith Cheek (Dustin) of Nashville, Tenn., Ashley Smith Day (Brandon) of St. Cloud, Fla., Tara Smith Langford (Rusty) of Memphis, Tenn., Andrew Morgan of Orlando, Fla., Jake Morgan of Charleston, S.C., Zack Morgan of Panama City, Fla.; and eight great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Kathryn Brooks Smith; parents, Jimmy and Carrie Smith; and sisters, Myrtle Smith Parker, Evelyn Smith Lee and Jeanette Smith Reel.
He will be remembered for his contributions to the Highlands County School System, his community and dedication to Christ, family and First Baptist Church of Sebring. As an educator he serves as teacher, principal, district administrator, assistant and superintendent of schools for Highlands County Schools. He achieved a bachelor’s degree from Troy State University and a master’s from Auburn University. After receiving a fellowship he received a specialist in education degree from The University of Florida and finally earned a doctorate of education from Nova University. He served in WWII as an MP, and the Korean War as a company commander of the prisoner of war camp No. 3 at Cheje-Do Island, Korea. He scored so highly on the Army entrance test that he entered the Army as a sergeant and subsequently rose to the frank of first lieutenant, achieving medals for American Theater Service, Good Conduct, WWII Victory, and the Meritorious Unit Award. He was involved in his communities through various groups such as coaching little league, the Masonic Lodge of McKenzie, Ala., Kiwanis of Sebring, and the Retired Teachers Association. He served his church faithfully teaching Sunday school for more than 50 years, serving as a deacon, choir member and even driving the bus when needed. It was once said he could move easily between presenting himself as “a country bumpkin or a Philadelphia lawyer, depending on what the situation called for.” He was much loved by his friends and family for his tenderness, integrity, wit and brilliant mind. There was a memorial service Friday, May 5, 2017, 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Sebring with Dr. Allen Higginbotham officiating. Online condolences may be left at: