Elder Davis Van Smith was born in Strong, Arkansas (Ebenezer Community) on September 11, 1915 to the parents of Sonny and Hattie Smith. He was the third born of four children: Ola Marie, AD and Lola B.
Elder Smith’s mother was a devout Christian mother, who raised her children with Christian values. Elder accepted Christ at an early age and grew up working in the community church, Ebenezer Baptist, serving The Lord and God’s people. He served as a deacon for many years and was faithful in serving and giving financially to the church until he relocated to DeSoto, Texas in 1994.
Elder received his early childhood education at Gill Elementary School in Strong, Arkansas. He graduated from Gardner High School at age 25 which he helped to build. He was in the first graduating class and was one of the two graduates in 1940. After graduating from high school, he went into the timber industry until he enlisted in the US Army during World War II in September 1942, where he served as a technician signal corps (Medic) until May 1944. He received an honorable discharge after he accidentally shot himself in the foot while cleaning his gun.
After being discharged from the military, Elder returned to the Timber Industry. He became an entrepreneur, starting a Pulp Wood Contracting Business. He was known as a man of integrity and honesty. God gave him the gift to become an expert in his field. He had the ability to negotiate with land owners and to deal effectively with other business owners. Elder worked hard and taught and expected others to do the same. He was constantly teaching and leading by example. He had loyal, long term and hardworking employees. Elder Smith possessed a spirit of generosity; he was a liberal giver and gave liberally to the people in the community. He believed God blessed him to serve many family members, friends, and neighbors in the community of Strong. He believed you should always help those in need, and he gave all that he had to the community.
At the age of 27, he married Ms. Lueola Smith. They were married for forty years and to this union one daughter, Brenda Joyce, was born. They both had a love for children and helped to raise many nephews and nieces as they would their own children, providing for them and building into their lives. Lueola died in 1973. In 1975, God brought another woman of God into Elder Smith’s life, Ms. Ella B. Moore. They enjoyed a life of serving in the church, singing together and traveling to Dallas to visit their children and grandchildren for over thirty-five years. Aunt B., as she was fondly called, passed into glory in 2011.
Although Elder Smith was active in the Ebenezer Church, serving as a deacon, teacher and singer, there remained a void. In 1989 after avoiding the call into ministry for many years, he finally said “yes” to the call after suffering a near death experience during which he sustained third degree burns over two-thirds of his body. In 1992 he finally accepted his official call into ministry as a minister of the gospel.
In 1994, when the first great-grandchild, Joy, was born, he and Aunt B made the decision to move to Texas to assist in raising her. They pampered and nourished her, and when Gavin was born, they did the same. Next, came Cerra who received the same tender loving care followed by Gabrielle and Gabriel. Papa and Aunt B would say their plans were to move back to Arkansas as soon as they didn’t have any more great-grandchildren to raise, but that day never came because Don Jr. and Zoe arrived with the same needs as the others.
Elder Davis Van Smith lived a full, blessed and active life. God showed His grace and mercy toward him. At age 97, he went on his first vacation: he traveled to Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York. After that trip, he became hooked on traveling. He enjoyed every aspect, from arriving at the airport, flying on the planes, spending nights in hotels, site seeing and trying new foods. From the age of 97 he experienced many “first” traveling experiences and was blessed and privileged to visit many places. One vivid memory that he often spoke about was stepping into the Pacific Ocean for the first time and going out into the ocean on a boat. Although Papa was not a swimmer, he was not afraid and had a great time. He often said he was experiencing and seeing things that he never dreamed he would see in his lifetime. He was very grateful and thankful to God for allowing him to experience Him in so many different ways.
Elder Smith’s advice when asked what was the secret to his long life: He always loved God and tried to serve Him. He said he wasn’t prefect, but he loved and cared about people and tried to help and take care of them. He said he never drank alcohol nor cursed, and he never smoked cigarettes or anything else. He said he got plenty of rest. He never lost the desire to learn and to speak into the lives of everyone he met.
Elder Davis Van Smith was preceded in death by his parents; wives, Lueola Smith and Ella B. Smith: brother, AD Smith; 2 sisters: Ola Marie Brooks and Lola B Phifer. He leaves to cherish his memories: a devoted daughter, Brenda Benton (Felton) of DeSoto; Six granddaughters: Chemille Benton of DeSoto, TX, DeAnna Williams (Don) of Cedar Hill, TX, Mekeisha Steele (Gregory) of Red Oak, TX, Feleceia Benton of Dallas, TX, Sharon Moore of Lancaster, TX; Michelle Petersen (Alfred) of Duncanville, TX: 3 grandsons: Willie Moore (Doris) of Dallas, TX; Nathan Moore (Liz) of Dallas, TX; Kevin Moore (Tyrene) of Lancaster, TX; 20 great-grandchildren: Joy, Gavin, Cerra, Gabrielle, Gabriel, Don Mario Jr, Zoe, Kollett, Willet, Dorlett, Jarod, Porshe, Brandy, Sadia, Veneisha, Tyrell, Al, Corey, Avery and Justin; a host of great-great grandchildren; nephews and nieces, relatives and friends, Agape Fellowship Christian Center family; and a special caregiver, Ms. Vera Scales.
Elder’s last few weeks were spent with him being attended to by his family and caregivers. His special sister-in-law, Sis. May Bell Walker, spent time singing to him. The Agape family surrounded him every Lord’s Day with singing, praying, speaking encouragement, and expressing thankfulness for him. He loved being surrounded by family and friends.
Date: Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
WAKE: 6-8pm , Friday, June 22, 2018
New Legacy Community Church
200 South Polk Street
Desoto, Texas 75115
Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018
Time: 11:00 am
New Legacy Community Church