James Ralph Smith

Published 12:30 pm Monday, April 15, 2024

The funeral service for James Ralph Smith will be 11 a.m., Friday, April 19, at Riverwood Family with burial in Riverwood Memorial Park. Visitation is from 10 a.m. until the time of the service.

Mr. Smith, 99, of Brookhaven, passed away April 12, 2024. He was born March 23, 1925, to James Elbert Smith and Elsie Mae Robbins Smith.

Ralph grew up in Monticello, MS.  His father died in the late 1930’s, so young Ralph had to work several jobs to help support the family. He graduated from Monticello High School where he excelled in the band playing his cornet. After high school he joined the Navy and served state-side during the latter years of WWII.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After leaving the navy, Ralph entered watchmaking school in Kansas City, MO, where he met the love of his life, Betty Jean Sears. They married in August 1949 and moved to Brookhaven, MS where he started his life-long career at Smith Jewelry.  Ralph loved serving the public and getting to know his customers. If not behind the sales counter, you would probably find him at the jewelry workbench or at Janie’s Pastry Shop. At home he was seen by many working in his yard and flower beds.

Ralph loved his family deeply and was very proud of his children and grandchildren and all their accomplishments. He became known as “Pa” to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren who he thought were “mighty fine.” He also loved the Brookhaven community, especially his church family at the Brookway Church of Christ.

He was a long-time member of Brookway Church of Christ, serving for many years as a deacon. Ralph owned Smith Jewelry House of Diamonds for over 50 years. He was an AGS Registered Jeweler and a Certified Gemologist. He served as president of the Mississippi Retail Jewelers Association and was named 1986 Jeweler of the Year.

He was an FAA flight instructor, an aerobatics judge, and a Civil Air Patrol Captain.

He was an avid fisherman and gardener.

He is preceded in death by his parents, James Elbert Smith and Elsie Mae Robbins Smith;

sisters, Kate Smith Riley, Nell Smith Taylor Eley; brothers, Elbert Ned Smith (infant), Jerry Ike Smith.

He is survived by his wife of 74 years, Betty Jean Sears Smith; children, Linda Smith Magee (husband Danny Magee) of Brandon, MS, Elbert “Bert” Claude Smith of Denver, CO,  Judy Ann Smith Matula (husband Michael Matula) of Austin, TX; and sister, Sara Smith Jones of Pensacola, FL; four grandchildren, Carrie Leanne Magee McMillen (husband Chris McMillen) of Starkville, MS, Christopher Landon Magee (wife Nikki Hooton Magee) of Starkville, MS, Cameron James Magee (wife Haley Butler Magee) of Gluckstadt, MS, and Grayson Camille Matula of Austin, TX; Four great-grandchildren, Luke and Julianne Magee and Paxton and Mallory McMillen all of Starkville, MS.

He is also survived by numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

The family would like to extend a special thanks to devoted caregivers Charlotte Allen and Candi McLendon.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a charity of your choice in memory of James Ralph Smith.

Condolences and other information are available online at www.riverwoodfamily.com.