If the measure of a man is determined by the size of his heart, Ronnie Earl Smith’s limitless, unconditional love for his family and friends will be his everlasting legacy. Though he had suffered several health complications, Ronnie’s passing on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 26, 2014, was unexpected.
Born on Jan. 2, 1949, in St. Louis, Mo., Ronnie served with the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, returning stateside in 1968. A visit to see his brother, Robert, a few years later brought Ronnie to Virginia, where he married his beloved Shirley and became an instant father to her two young sons, Warren and Michael. Ronnie delighted in his role as a dad, taking the boys on fishing trips and to ball games. In later years, he was a proud grandpa and great-grandpa to their children and grandchildren.
Ronnie’s talents were varied and many. He worked as a maintenance supervisor at Sinclair Gardens Apartments in Hampton, as a psychiatric technician at Colonial Psychiatric Hospital in Lee Hall, and as a private contractor until disabled by an injury several years ago.
For the past 10 years, Ronnie had made his home in Gloucester. Though his physical abilities were limited, he was still quite handy with a TV remote control. He was content to watch just about any televised sport for hours on end, as he was when he quietly slipped away.
Ronnie was recently preceded in death by his brother, Robert Smith, and stepson, Michael Winstead. He leaves behind his best friend, Shirley Smith of Gloucester; sisters in Missouri, Donna Higgins of Kennett and Marilyn Scoggins of Shell Knot; stepson, Warren Anthony Winstead of Gloucester; grandchildren, Taylor Winstead of Virginia Beach, Courtney Pease and husband Scott of Hampton, and Warren Andrew Winstead of Lynchburg; and great-grandchildren, Scott III, Lucille and Jackson Pease.
Ronnie was laid to rest at a graveside service on Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 12 noon at the Albert G. Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery, 5310 Milners Rd. in Suffolk. He will be remembered at a memorial service on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 4 p.m., at Hampton Christian Church, 151 E. Mercury Blvd. in Hampton.
Deeply spiritual, Ronnie knew who he was and whose he was. Until we see him again, we will remember his gentleness, his unfailing good nature, and the lessons he taught us about living and loving.
“I thank my God for every remembrance of you.” —Philippians 1:3