Remembering Bobby Smith

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2016

STARRING ROLE: Poplarville native Bobby Smith portrayed Swoop-Down in Frank Ladner’s “Max Peril.” Smith passed away last week.  Submitted photo

STARRING ROLE: Poplarville native Bobby Smith portrayed Swoop-Down in Frank Ladner’s “Max Peril.” Smith passed away last week.
Submitted photo

“Everything is gonna work out like it’s supposed to. IMAGINE.” –– Bobby Smith.

On August 11, Poplarville lost, what many have referred to as, the city’s “best friend,” Bobby Smith.
For more than 40 years, the lifelong Poplarville resident was a fixture at the local grocery store.
Gwen Grant, daughter of former Sunflower owner Arthur Moore Gandy, said she believes Smith began working for the Rawls Company when he was 16.
In 1980, Grant’s father bought Sunflower, which he owned for the next 25 years.
“He was my dad’s right-hand man,” she said. “My dad called him first when he had something he needed to be done. He was so dependable and rarely missed work. He knew everybody and was friends with everybody. He was like family to me, I saw him every day.”
Grant said one of Smith’s favorite phrases was ‘‘yes, indeed!’’ He could mimic anybody, she added. Smith had a passion for helping people and would often perform odd jobs after his shift at Sunflower, Grant said.
“Bobby took out everybody’s groceries,” she said. “Everybody loved him.”
Smith continued working at the grocery store when the Ramey’s bought it, Grant said.
Poplarville native Katrina Mizell said she had known Smith her entire life and worked with him for 10 years at Sunflower.
“He was kind and always smiling,” she said. “He remembered everything about everyone and their families. He always wrote deep and meaningful statuses on Facebook and end the quote with the word IMAGINE.”
David O’Quinn worked at Sunflower for 15 years and managed the store for six. He said Smith was more than just a co-worker; he was his friend.
“I learned from him how to serve people,” O’Quinn said. “He had a servant’s heart.”
O’Quinn said Smith often spoke about his youth in Poplarville. Smith grew up during the years when schools were integrated and told O’Quinn that he didn’t experience any serious problems.
“When he spoke about any injustice that happened before or after that time period, he was never upset about it and always smiled and said ‘that’s just the way it was,’’’ O’Quinn said. “There was no unforgiveness in his heart. He had a forgiving and good heart and I attribute that to how he was raised. Our society could use more of that. He served Poplarville well. He decided to stay local because he loved the people and wanted to continue to serve. Bobby was a brilliant mind. He was one of the smartest, talented and most humble guys I’ve ever known.”
Poplarville filmmaker Frank Ladner also grew up knowing Smith. He starred in both of Ladner’s films, “Hickory Never Bleeds” and “Max Peril.” Prior to starring in those films, Ladner captured Smith’s essence in a documentary titled “Mr. Bobby.”
In “Max Peril,” Smith portrayed Swoop-Down, a role Ladner said he couldn’t see anyone else playing.
“He had a special connection with people and blessed so many,” Ladner said. “He wasn’t a politician or a businessman; he worked faithfully at a grocery store for 40 years.”
Ladner said Smith always joked about filming a Western if his character could draw his pistol and instead pull out a sketchbook.
“He is sure going to be missed by a lot of people,” Ladner said. “I’ve gotten many comments from people that they’re glad he’s captured on film.”
A benefit for Smith’s burial fund will be held on Friday, Aug. 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Dixon Theater, located at 502 S. Main St. in Poplarville, Mizell said.
During the event, there will be showings of Ladner’s films “Max Peril” and “Mr. Bobby,” both featuring Smith.
The films will be shown at 7 p.m. and a donation of any amount is required for admission, Mizell said. During the benefit, there will be a silent auction, bake sale and movie snacks.
Anyone who wishes to donate to the burial fund may do so at two authorized locations, The Coffee Shop located at 1030 S. Main St., and Scooters, located at 613 S. Main St., Mizell said.
For more information contact Mizell at 601-347-5328.
“Bobby’s burial policy was not paid in full yet and there is very little to cover expenses,” Mizell said. “He did so much over the years for everyone. I tell people to give a dollar for every smile he gave them and most tell me, ‘but I don’t have a million dollars.’”
Smith’s memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 20 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, located at 12 Bilbo Hill Dr. in Poplarville, Mizell said. Visitation will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. with a service to follow. A gathering will be held for family and friends at Scooters immediately following the service.

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