Smith Jr., Benjamin H. age 97, passed away on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at the Home at Taylor Pointe Nursing Home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ben was born in Abbeville, South Carolina on July 5, 1921. He was the first son of nine children born to the Rev. Benjamin H. Smith and Carrie Aiken Smith. Ben has been a Cincinnatian since the age of two. He was the eldest of eight brothers and one sister.
A love for God and helping people was the thing he most wanted to be remembered for. And he loved to pray, if you had a need, just let him know and he’d take it to the Lord on your behalf. He had four favorite scriptures the 23rd Psalms (because he truly found the Lord to be his Shepherd), I Corinthians 13, Philippians 4:13 and 2 Timothy 1:7.
After he graduated from Old Woodward H.S in 1939, when it was downtown, he enrolled in the National Youth Administration Program which led him to enrolling in the Culinary Arts School, to graduate with honors. From there he became one of the youngest chef-cooks on the B & O Railroad. While in the Army he was selected to attend the Fort Hamilton Noncommissioned Officer Leadership School. He graduated with honors, which led to his becoming a Sergeant.
After his time in the Army he went back to the Railroad becoming a chef extraordinaire, serving and meeting legends like Mary McLeod-Bethune (founder of Bethune College), Benjamin Mays (President of Morehouse College) and President Harry S. Truman. Retiring from the railroad after forty two years, he was honored as one of the Outstanding Black Railroad Men of Cincinnati.
Ben was a member of Union Baptist Church in downtown Cincinnati for more than 60 years. Volunteering was a mainstay in his life. At Union Baptist for many years he held the position of secretary for the Greater Cincinnati District Laymen Group, where every third Wednesday his group of volunteers would visit older congregational members who were homebound. Not only volunteering in church for various events and or leading Bible study classes, but when he lived in Washington D. C. for a short period, he headed up a civic program for young people. For over eleven years he volunteered with the Cincinnati Salvation Army Day Care Center. When they closed that location, he began volunteering at the Evanston Senior Center, which is part of the Cincinnati Area Senior Services. There he took over leading the Tuesday Bible Study and the Bible Study’s first Annual
Breakfast and was named one of the center’s “Outstanding Hero” for his faithful service and hard work.
If you needed prayer, encouragement or a history lesson, Ben was the man to see. Ben believed “life is not worth living unless you have helped someone else along the way.” He believed in living and walking a Christ-like life, where in the end you will be rewarded.
Ben was preceded in death by six brothers; Raymond C. Smith, Frederick D. Smith, James A. Smith, Robert I. Smith, Joseph C. Smith, and Thomas W. Smith. And his companion and friend, Ms. Gasey J. Thurmond-Smith.
His memory will forever be cherished by his two daughters, Juliet Makonnen and Carol (Courtland) Prince; grandson, Jacob Makonnen; brother, William (Wanda) Smith and beloved sister, Lillian (Benjamin) Dean; special nieces, Marsha Smith M.D., Leslie Dean and Ingrid Smith; and a host of nieces, nephew Wendell Smith and friends.
Dad we will miss our talks from 97 years of your great wealth of historical knowledge, always wanting to know how the Reds were doing, your good cooking, reminding us the importance of family and to pray about everything.
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