Originally created 08/07/03

Mr. Melvin Smith (WARRENTON, GA)



WARRENTON, GA - Mr. H. Melvin Smith died on August 5, 2003 at Hilton Head Island, S.C., succumbing to a 2-year battle with brain cancer. He was a resident of Tide Pointe, a retirement community on Hilton Head where he lived with his wife, Margaret Dudley Smith. Mr. Smith was a native of Warrenton, Georgia, where he lived until June of this year. He was a well-known business executive throughout the CSRA, owning and operating several diversified enterprises in Georgia and South Carolina. Mr. Smith was born April 15, 1930 in Glascock County, the son of the late Herbert R. Smith and Vera Mae Johnson Smith. Growing up in a farm community, he learned the agricultural business at an early age and soon recognized the needs of local farmers. Mr. Smith began his career with Southern Cotton Oil Company in Warrenton, initially focusing on the cotton industry and learning the operations of cotton gins, as well as proper growing and cultivating techniques. In 1955, he opened his first business, Warren County Trading Company, in Warrenton. With his brother, Gene T. Smith, he owned and operated this Purina feed and seed dealer for more than three decades. The business operates today as Smith Farm Supply, Inc., and is still owned and managed by Gene Smith. Also in the late 1950s, Mr. Smith formed H.M. Smith Fertilizer Company in Warrenton. This company supplied a complete line of products used by farmers in the planting, growing and harvesting of crops. These products included the companys own well-known Smith-Groª line of feed and fertilizer. The company soon expanded, and a second location of H.M. Smith Fertilizer Company was opened in Thomson, Georgia in 1968. In 1963, Mr. Smith reached an agreement with Genuine Parts Company of Atlanta to become the first NAPA auto parts jobber in the area. He opened his first NAPA store that year in Warrenton, and rapidly expanded his territory. Over the next few years, he opened several other stores throughout Georgia and South Carolina, becoming one of NAPAs largest dealers in the CSRA. Augusta area locations included Martinez, Harlem and Belvedere. Mr. Smith received approval from Ford Motor Company in 1966 to purchase the Ford dealership in Warrenton. He did so in April of that year, renaming it H.M. Smith Ford, Inc. The company still operates today as one of the oldest Ford dealers in the nation. Mr. Smith was instrumental in bringing industry to the area, helping to secure such manufacturing companies as Garland Knitting Mills, which opened in Warrenton in 1970. At that time, he formed Smith Leasing Corporation in Warrenton, which served as the original trucking company for Garland. His fleet of trucks carried Garland products throughout the eastern seaboard. Smith Leasing is now one of the CSRAs largest purveyors of rental storage containers and trailers. For more than 30 years, Mr. Smith was a homebuilder, farmer and timber grower. He controlled thousands of acres and was noted for his timber management skills, particularly those involving "natural" methods of timber production. Mr. Smith was also a well-known cattle rancher, and was the first to bring Santa Gertrudis bulls to the area. He successfully crossbred these cattle with the more common Hereford breeds. For his entire life, Mr. Smith was devoted to the church as a member of First United Methodist Church of Warrenton. He spent considerable time and resources in serving on that churchs Administrative Council as Chairperson of Long Range Planning Committee and Chairperson of the Building Fund. He was a faithful member of the Sarah Clary Sunday School Class for more than 50 years. Mr. Smith was very active in church and community affairs, serving on the CSRA Planning and Development Commission, and was elected Chairperson of the Warrenton Downtown Development Authority. He was a Member of the Warren County Chamber of Commerce, for which he served on the Board of Directors, and was a member and past President of the Warrenton Kiwanis Club. Additionally, he was a member of the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association and the National Automobile Dealers Association, as well as the Georgia Forestry Association and the Georgia Farm Bureau. Survivors include his wife, Margaret Dudley Smith, two sons, M. Daniel Smith of Hilton Head Island along with his wife Kim and their children Hannah and Adam, and Steven T. Smith of Edison, NJ, his wife Lynn, and their children Scott and Kelly; a sister, Susie Abbott of Warrenton and a brother, Gene T. Smith of Warrenton. A brother, Louie E. Smith, preceded him in death. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, August 8 at Warrenton First United Methodist Church with Rev. Ted Miller officiating. Burial will follow the funeral services at Savannah Valley Memorial Gardens, Thomson, GA. Mr. Smith will lie in state for one hour prior to the service. Pallbearers will be George Langford, Emile Carr, Karl Haywood, Lane McMichael, Juddy Johnson, Jim McMichael, Dennis Coxwell, Gene Rabun and Colen Todd. Honorary pallbearers will be Sonny McCorkle, John Roberts, Jeff Atkins, Reggie Garner, Mike Holcomb, Tommy Phelps, Al Kitchens, members of the Kiwanis Club of Warrenton and members of the Sarah Clary Sunday School Class. Friends may call at the residence, 112 Norwood Road ,Warrenton or at Lowe Funeral Home. The family requests that donations be made to the Building Fund of the First United Methodist Church, 303 East Main Street, Warrenton GA 30828 or to the American Cancer Society, C/O Mrs. Louise Hadden 701 East Main Street, Warrenton. GA 30828 Lowe Funeral Home, 113 W. Gibson Street, Warreton, GA 30828 (706) 465-3333 (email: lowe 113@cs.com) Sign the guestbook at AugustaChronicle.com

The Augusta Chronicle August 7, 2003