Eddie Charles “Smitty” Smith’s roots in Coahoma County were deeply imbedded.
Smith, who died May 14 at age 82, attended Friars Point Elementary School, Aggie High School and Coahoma Junior College. He later taught science, general biology, human anatomy and physiology, and nutrition at Coahoma Community College, where he also announced football games.
One of Smith’s biggest local accomplishments came in government serving as the District 4 seat for the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors from 1976 to 2004. The supervisors passed a resolution honoring his service and life on Wednesday, May 16.
District 1 representative Paul Pearson, who is the current Board of Supervisors president, took his seat in 1996 and spoke at Smith’s funeral. Pearson is the only remaining supervisor who served with Smith, who was board president himself from 1996 to 2004.
“‘Smitty’, he became supervisor in ’76,” Pearson said. “I had been out of high school three years when he became supervisor. He had a lot of wisdom. He knew the ins and outs. The biggest thing with ‘Smitty’ that I found was we could have a conversation and we could agree on it. Then at the board meeting, he would still agree on it. It may not have been politically popular, but he was a man of his word. Whatever he said he would do, he would do it.”
Pearson said Smith was instrumental in securing funds to remodel the Coahoma County Courthouse and in implementing a nursing school behind the hospital. He added education was very important to Smith.
“He helped me a lot,” Pearson said. “He helped me learn how to carry myself in the board meetings, when to speak, when not to speak. He was very good at that.”
District 4 representative Johnny Newson first ran for his position at age 35 but did not win until age 50 in 2003 when he defeated the incumbent Smith by 80 votes.
“It’s not that ‘Smitty’ wasn’t doing a good job, but I had to prepare myself for the future also, for my political career,” Newson said. “I had been brought up in the political arena all my life. I worked for Dr. Aaron E. Henry. I marched with him. I kind of worked with him hand-in-hand. I saw how he did and progressed with the NAACP. Therefore, me being involved in politics is sort of like osmosis.
“It was a bleed-off effect. Then I had my dad, Charlie Newson, who was one of the strongest political activists in the days of Coahoma County. I basically had a well-rounded environment when it came to politics.”
Newson and Smith may have been political opponents, but they were friends and had mutual respect. Newson attended Smith’s funeral.
“‘Smitty’ was a mentor, one of the greatest mentors that ever came about in Coahoma County as far as education and politics,” Newson said. “Therefore, if anyone wanted to be a good politician, all they had to do was look at ‘Smitty’ and see how he conducted himself and how he got things accomplished and follow in his footsteps.”
County administrator Morgan Wood began as an administrative assistant under the late Hugh Jack Stubbs in 2001 and was impressed with Smith’s work ethic.
“I only worked with him for almost three years, but the time that I spent with him, he was a wonderful boss,” Wood said. “He was in here every day. He asked questions. He wanted to know everything he could about everything and keep on top of stuff. His sense of style was unbelievable. He always showed up in his fancy suits and always looked top-notch. He always had his cologne and his suits on.”