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18 January 2007

A Tribute to Carol Smith

Editorial from the Jacksonville News is reprinted here in its entirety.

Jimmy Creed: If you wanted it done, all you had to do was call Carol

This community lost one of its “golden” citizens last Wednesday when cancer finally claimed Carol Smith.

Those who knew Carol long and well as many of you did or for just a short period of time as did, I can all certainly attest to that statement.

Plainly and simply, Carol got things done.

Need someone to round up door prizes and then sell tickets at the door for the Exchange Club? Carol did it. Need a volunteer to tutor at Kitty Stone Elementary? Call Carol. Need someone to help the elderly prepare their taxes? There was Carol.

And that only scratches the surface of the contributions Carol Smith made to this community since coming here in 1979.

Perhaps former Exchange Club President Gene Howard summed it up best.

“She was a dynamo in this community,” Howard said.

Like me, many of you surely must have looked at this slightly built woman and wondered how she could move so many huge mountains. The truth, I suspect, is she never saw a mountain she didn’t believe she couldn’t move.

That was the thing that struck me about Carol in the short time I was privileged to know her … she was the eternal optimist.

On one of my first trips to an Exchange Club meeting, Carol sold me three door-prize tickets and, as she handed them to me, said, “The winner is one of those.” Turns out she was right that day.

That attitude carried over into everything Carol did, even to the way she handled the news that a deadly disease would soon take her away.

One of my most vivid memories of Carol and perhaps that of Margaret Anderson and my other staff members as well will be that of the day Carol came to our office to discuss the writing of the feature obituary that graces the front page of today’s edition.

There was no weeping or tears. There was no hand wringing or woe-is-me. There was simply Carol, as perky and upbeat as any time I’d ever seen her.

From the smile on her face and the way she carried on, you certainly couldn’t tell she was deathly ill and didn’t have long left with us.

She was very matter of fact about that. She had cancer. She didn’t have long. She was going to make the most of it.

I can only guess that’s what Carol would tell us now, that she made the most of her life, and that’s what she would want us to dwell on most.

Don’t mourn. Don’t cry. Don’t be sad for too long. Just get out there and find some way to help folks like she did.

Carol was the 2006 winner of the Exchange Club’s Book of Golden Deeds and perhaps no other honor could so fittingly mark the life of someone who truly was golden in her deeds.

Close friend Ann Woodrow fondly shared a treasured Carol Smith story at last Thursday’s Exchange Club meeting as an example.

“I’m in the hand bell choir at the Methodist church, and she gave every single one of us a sterling silver cross that could be used as jewelry or as a Christmas tree decoration,” Woodrow said. “That was Carol … always thinking of other people.”

Woodrow shared one more remembrance — sad at first but once you think it through, it should make you smile and feel better.

“She told me two days ago she was ready to go to UAB, and I told her that some of us weren’t ready for her to go,” Woodrow said. “But she said, ‘I’m going.’ She said, ‘I know where I’m going, and I’m not scared to go, and I’ll be better off.’”

And those of us left behind are much better off for having known her.

About Jimmy Creed
Jimmy Creed is the managing editor of The Jacksonville News. You can call Creed at 256-435-5021 or e-mail him at

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