Willie Lee Smith, 88, passed away on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at Ashton Court Care and Rehab Centre in Liberty, MO. A public visitation will be held at Henderson’s Highland Park Funeral Home in Des Moines, IA on Saturday, August 1, 2020, from 11:00am -1:00pm with a short service starting at 1:00pm. Burial will follow at Resthaven Cemetery in West Des Moines, IA.
Willie was born on February 11,1932 in Marianna, AR to Will and Pearl-Lee Smith. As a young man, Willie relocated to West Des Moines, IA to join his older brother, and as fate would have it, to meet his beloved wife-to-be, Irene. Irene was the light of Willie’s life and they were married on July 22, 1951. From this union, they were blessed with 6 children – Michael, William, Deryl, Galen, Rochelle, and David. They spent 48 love-filled years together before Irene passed in 1999.
Willie took his responsibilities as a husband and father seriously. He spent more than 30 years working at the Penn-Dixie Cement Plant, and when the plant closed, he and Irene made the decision to start their own business, Willey’s Professional Lawn Care Service. Willie spent over 20 years as an entrepreneur, building a successful business from the ground up, until a massive stroke forced his retirement.
Following the stroke, Willie was deemed a physical miracle – and quickly started moving around without an assistive device. Unfortunately, he lost much of his speech capabilities, but he was still able to communicate via his expressive and outgoing nature. His family and friends will always fondly remember his many post-stroke catchphrases like his excited need to “talk to God in the morning!”.
Willie was a beloved son, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great grandfather, and friend to many. If you met Willie once, you would never forget him. He had the charisma, smile, laugh, and personality that filled rooms. Prior to his stroke, Willie enjoyed attending services at Maple Street Baptist Church, where he and Irene were long-time members. He loved music and singing and spent many years as part of a gospel quartet, the “Men of Maple Street”. Willie adored his family and took his relationship with the Lord seriously.
Willie was a hardworking, passionate, and honorable man that would bend over backward to help those he loved. Willie will be missed terribly. However, let us rejoice that he can finally rest in the arms of his Father, and that after more than twenty years, Willie and Irene are together again.
He leaves to cherish his memories: four sons Michael Smith Sr., William Smith, Galen Smith, and David Smith; two daughters Deryl (Tyrone) Gilford and Rochelle Smith; eleven grandchildren Michael (Ratima) Smith Jr., Melissa Smith, Dawniece Trumbo, Dionne (Tavonga) Siyavora, Dominque (Nanfack) Njipwo, Antione Smith, LeNieca Colbert, Adrian Smith Sr., Summer Smith, Michael “Allan” Smith, and Zyis Smith; eighteen great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; one brother, Willie “Gene” Smith; three sisters, Pearlie Daway, Florence Johnson, and Elizabeth “Ann” Metcalf; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Willie was preceded in death by his father and mother; his wife, Irene; two brothers, Willie Sain and Saul Smith; five sisters Lena Smith, Dena Halverson, Girtha Gills, Bessie Thomas, and Essie Smith.
Flowers may be directed to Henderson’s Highland Park Funeral Home at 3500 6th Ave., Des Moines, IA 50313.
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