J. O. Smith, a native of Bennettsville SC owner and manager of THE SMITH FUNERAL HOME began his business in Florence, October, 1950. He came here after receiving encouraging statements from some of Florence’s leading citizens who stated that a first class business of this nature was needed here.
This month makes 72 years of service to the citizens of Florence and surrounding areas. It has prospered for two reasons-services and equipment. The personnel of the SMITH FUNERAL HOME appreciates the patronage and the support that the community has given across the years. No one is ever denied because of financial circumstances.
The physical plant out grew it’s facilities and in 1964, the building was completely renovated. Now it stands as a memorial for the many families that we have been privileged to serve for twenty years.
The building is a structure of crab orchard stone and brick. Upon entering the building there was a large reception room with a decorative fountain and receptionist’s desk which is in the shape of a hall moon. To the right is Mr. Smith’s office. Proceeding down the corridor on the right are three individual reposing rooms and on the left is the family room which as a water fountain, soda machine and comfort facilities. To the left of the reception is the chapel which is the full length of the left side of the building. It opens out into the public reception room which is used when there is an overflow crowd in the chapel, which gives a seating capacity of 265 persons. There is a minister’s rostrum, an organ and proper lighting effects at the front of the chapel. The building is air-conditioned and music is piped-in through out the building lends itself to a restful atmosphere. The second story of the structure houses the display room is an efficiency apartment for a resident attendant. On the outside, located in the rear of the structure is a two story, four car garage which houses a fleet of air-conditioned, late model equipment. The second story is used for storage and to the left of the garage is additional storage space. The entire ground area is asphalt which provides ample space for family parking when a service is held in the chapel. To the left of the building on the front is a carport which is added protection for the family during inclement weather.
Mr. Smith, is a graduate of Marlboro County Training High School in Bennettsville, SC. and of South Carolina State College, Orangeburg. After serving there and one-half years in the Army, he attended and graduated from Echol’s College of Mortuary Science ( a subsidiary of Temple University) in Philadelphia, PA. He served his apprenticeship in Bennettsville at Morris Funeral Home. Mr. Smith is a licensed funeral director and embalmer for North and South Carolina. He is a member of Cumberland U.M. Church and participates in varied church, fraternal and civic organizations.
Mrs. Smith, a native of Bennettsville, SC. devotes her full time to the business after teaching for nineteen years – seventeen of those years in Florence Schools District No. l. She is a graduate of Mather Academy (now Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy), Camden, SC, attended Bennett College , Greensboro, NC and a graduate of Howard University, Washington, DC. Mrs. Smith serves as a secretary-receptionist of the firm and is a licensed funeral directress.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith are parents of two sons – James Lawrence who is 15 and a tenth grade student at McClenaghan High School and Arnold Jerome who is 8, a third grade student at Holmes Elementary School. Both boys are active in the business.
Mr. H. Morris Smith, a brother of Mr. Smith, is a tremendous help to the business. He lives in Bennettsville and is a graduate of Marlboro Training High School and Claflin College, Orangeburg, SC. He has done further work at Pembroke College, Pembroke, NC. He served his apprenticeship with THE SMITH FUNERAL SERVICE after his graduation the Atlanta School of Mortuary Science, Atlanta, GA.
Other members of the firm are Mr. Curtis Arthur, Mr. A.M. Key, Mr. A.L. Sellers and Mr. Andrew Lakin. These men have rendered invaluable and faithful service to the SMITH FUNERAL HOME throughout the years for which we are grateful.
The Smith Funeral Home establishment was the first to have limousines for their families that they served in the area along with the spacious chapel of convenience to the family.
J. Lawrence Smith a 1977 graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and a graduate of Gupton Jones Mortuary of Science in Atlanta, Ga. returned home to operate the family business. In 1975 the business was remodel. The family instituted a stucco building with the torch of Italian and Spanish Structure. J. Lawrence married Felicia Robinson- Smith a licensed funeral director for the state of South Carolina. Their son, J. Lawrence “Chipper” Smith, II will move the funeral service into the Third Generation.
The Smith’s are members of the National Morticians Association, SC Morticians Association, Sixth District Morticians Association (where Mr. J. O Smith was one of four of the founders) National Funeral Directors Association and SC Funeral Directors Association.
The Smith Funeral Home of Florence established remains family owned and operated.
SMITH FUNERAL HOME of Florence
307 John Street