Services to honor and remember the life of Jerry Edward Smith will be 11:00 AM, Thursday, January 6th, 2022 at First United Methodist Church, Claremore, Oklahoma. Burial will follow at Fairview Cemetery, Talala, Oklahoma.
Jerry entered into Glory on New Year’s Day at a Tulsa hospital, surrounded by his beloved family. He was 78.
Born in Los Angeles, California on March 21st, 1943, Jerry was the son of Cecil Edward and Ruby Leota (Gill) Smith. California was home for the young Smith family until Jerry was old enough to attend school. Then the family returned to Oklahoma, residing in rural Nowata for a time, then moving to the small rural area of Watova and later to Dewey, before buying a farm outside of Tahlequah just in time for Jerry to begin his ninth grade.
Being a very bright child, Jerry never faced academic challenges. He might have been at the top of his class, had it not been for a cute young lady named Paula, whom he never seemed to be able to pass in any subject–including math! Well she was smart and she was cute, so why not just make her your girlfriend? Jerry and Paula seemed the perfect match, even in junior high. Since the two were young, they were on again and off again through high school. Then the senior play was cast with both given leading roles. ‘Stage Door’ re-ignited the courtship that has kept the two a couple ever since.
Following graduation from Tahlequah High School with the class of 1961, Jerry and Paula both enrolled in Northeastern State. While college students, they married in 1962 in a Joplin, Missouri wedding ceremony held at the First Methodist Church. Following their graduation from Northeastern in 1964, both with glowing transcripts and degrees in education, job offers came from across the country. They chose to live and work in Los Alamos, New Mexico (site of the Manhattan Project), Jerry teaching mathematics and Paula, music. Still under the administration of the Atomic Energy Commission, the new instructors experienced teaching at its best, where everything possible for the success of both teachers and students was made available.
In 1966, Jerry accepted a position as a math instructor at the Oklahoma Military Academy.
The move to Claremore for the now young family of three, was the first of several times they
would call this community home. Though an outstanding instructor, Jerry’s teaching skills were
no match for a classroom full of tired cadets who had been up marching for hours before coming
to class. Thus, Jerry chose to leave the classroom as teacher and enter once again as student.
He applied and was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship. He
chose to study at the University of South Carolina in Columbia–the only university to offer a pure
math Masters Degree program. This was an academic challenge like none he had faced before; however, his diligent and committed efforts earned a Master’s Degree in Mathematics in 1968, from USC.
His educational accomplishments and strong work ethic afforded Jerry many employment
opportunities. He chose to work at a Missouri State Project as a Title III Mathematics Specialist.
This took the Smith family to Webb City. Though holding this position for only two years, before
the project closed, Jerry and Paula have reunited yearly with many of the special people who
were Jerry’s co-workers. Many life-long friendships were formed during this brief time.
With Jerry’s acceptance of a teaching position at the then Claremore Junior College – later
Rogers State University - Claremore would once again be called home. Jerry was not only a
good mathematician, but he was also an outstanding instructor–making the challenging
concepts understandable for his students. This was a gift with an outreach far beyond his
college classrooms. Jerry made sure his children and grandchildren were well able to grasp all
their required math concepts. And he was forever tutoring children that were a part of churches
he led throughout his later years as a pastor.
As a matter of fact, Jerry, though very dedicated to all his career efforts over the years, was an
even better Dad and Gramps. All his children’s friends wanted to spend time at the Smith house.
Jerry made time for them all. And he could fix ANYTHING. So bikes needing repair were often
made good as new by Mike’s dad. It wasn’t just the neighboring kids that got attention, Jerry
had an amazing gift of making everyone feel special. If he was with you, he was fully engaged.
He was open, honest and interested–totally present. This selfless quality enriched the lives of
multitudes, both near and far.
His career and academic accomplishments seemed never ending. While still a professor at
RSU, he continued to further his own education, earning an Educational Doctorate in
Mathematics and Statistics from Tulsa University in 1974.
He left his career in education for a time and entered the business world, becoming
Programmer Analyst with Management Planning Systems International, based in Tulsa. While in
Montreal installing a system, his passion as an educator brought him to a decision to return to
teaching. He took a job as a math instructor for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in
Daytona Beach, Florida. This, Jerry would say, was the most pivotal time in his life. He met
people he would later realize were part of a much bigger plan–actually an eternity plan.
While living and working in Florida, this highly successful man seemed to be unsettled,
unfulfilled and searching for something. Though he seemingly had everything–a beautiful
family, career success and a list of academic accomplishments–still, there was something
missing. He didn’t know what. He was seeking answers and attempted to make an
appointment with a highly recommended Tulsa psychiatrist, Dr. Twila Fox. Though her schedule
was filled, he found she was conducting a public meeting in town. Jerry and Paula attended
together, though the two were struggling to deal with Jerry’s search to resolve his turmoil.
Those who know Jerry well, have already heard him tell the story of how this meeting
concluded. If you haven’t heard it, he’d surely say that there is no time like while reading it in his
obituary! Faith does live on throughout eternity. And certainly Jerry’s is. At this meeting, Dr.
Fox shared her own personal story of meeting Jesus Then she spoke of two people who were
in the audience–a couple, exactly like Jerry and Paula, a struggling couple that needed to know
Jesus. That was March 4th, 1980, the day Jerry has described since as the exact time he was
‘apprehended by Jesus’. Nothing has been the same since.
Jerry would leave his job in Florida and return to work in Tulsa as a recruiter for Cities
Service. He then opened The J. Edward Smith associates, a recruiting firm that found great
success being operated on firm Christian principles. God was leading everything now. Jerry
took a very active role in the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Organization, serving as president many times.
During the Christmas season of 1981, the Lord called him into ministry. He was ordained into ministry in 1987, and began traveling for missions work. His ministry license was with the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministers International, Dallas. In 1991, he became a full-time pastor of Spirit of Grace Church in Claremore. In 2000, he and his family began New Covenant Church in McKinney, Texas. When he retired from fulltime pastorate, he and Paula returned to Claremore.
Having received a prophetic word in 1982 that “The Lord is going to send you to the back alleys
of other nations and other continents to share the wonderful love of Jesus,” Jerry and Paula
would fulfill that direction, establishing Jerry Smith Ministries, now known as Holy Spirit
Ministries International. Among other things, this ministry has seen more than 400 churches started in African nations. There are also thirteen ministry schools in Western Africa where pastors are trained for full-time ministry duties. There are outreaches in Uganda and Kenya also. Besides the United States, the Smiths have had ministry/missions outreaches in Venezuela, Argentina, Israel, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Benin, Bulgaria, Romania, Pakistan, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Andorra and Philippines. This worldwide ministry will continue as Paula and children will carry on the legacy of service.
So many accomplishments, so much service, fully devoted to family and a multitude of rich
friendships, one might think Jerry had no down time. Not true. He always had time to tinker.
He could refurbish a car from engine to paint. All three Smith children could name multitudes of
classics that sat in the driveway of their home until dad had refined them to perfect condition.
He kept a ‘tight ship’--having a garage floor every bit as clean as the kitchen floor. And he loved
getting on his motorcycle and riding off as far as the road would take him. Close friendships
were forged while on some of these rides. Witty and wonderful conversation was his gift–fully
present and caring during each of these conversations.
Much of the accomplishments that make up the 78 years of Jerry’s life, this side of heaven,
are little known. This, because Jerry walked humbly through this life as a servant to all.
His legacy will live on through the lives of his beloved family members who survive. They are: Paula Blank Smith, wife; Michael Edwards Smith, son, and his wife Pamela Workman Smith; Stacey Smith Limerick, daughter, and her husband David Lynn Limerick; Christopher Blank Smith, son, and his wife Julie Marshall Smith. He is also survived by his grandchildren Abigail Meredith Smith, Kyle David Limerick, Kristin Lynn Limerick. Camden Christopher Smith, Shiloh Dawn Smith, Asher William Smith, and Judah Ryker Smith. He is also survived by his sister Glenda Hinton and her husband Bill Hinton; niece Diane Douthit; and nephew David Douthit and his wife Valerie Douthit.
In lieu of flowers please consider a gift to Holy Spirit Ministries, P.O. Box 901, Claremore, OK 74018. This is a tax deductible donation that will be used to further the Gospel across the world.
The service will be live-streamed at claremorefumc.org/live
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