I admired and appreciated him more than I expressed.  Unfortunately, that is often the case with relationships in this life.  And now Clair Smith has gone on to his long home and the reward of his Savior’s presence.

Today, I contemplated his life and legacy.  For full disclosure, I must state that I am not a Smith by blood.  However, he became Papaw to me when I married my wife.  My memories include golf during one of his stays in Clearwater…Thanksgiving dinner and some of the most competitive croquet I have ever played…driving with him to Morgantown to watch the Backyard Brawl at Mountaineer Field.

As a veteran of World War II, he served valiantly as a ball turret gunner on a B-17.  He crafted images with his words, writing poems of nature and history rich with emotion and experience.  The brush was also his tool, whether portrait or church baptistery scene.  When he casually broke into song, it was often a whimsical declaration of his love for a family member – perhaps an infant in his arms or Myrtle, his beloved wife of more than six decades.

He was a patriarch in every sense of the word.

And in that role he gave me his greatest gift.  It began with his genuine faith in Christ.  It continued as he lived out that faith before his family.  It bore fruit as they came to love the Lord and trust the Savior.

And 26 years ago, I met a godly, loving young woman who is a result of his legacy.

Even now I can hear my own children’s voices singing of the love of God and am reminded of those who have walked in faith so many years ago.

I have been blessed because of his life

and am grateful.