Jacob “Jack” Smith, Jr.

November 18, 2013
Jacob “Jack” Smith, Jr.

NEW PORT RICHEY ? It was hit or miss soliciting donations for the RAP House, still a young not-for-profit in the early 1980s. George Magrill made his pitch for the short-term shelter for runaways and homeless youths but sat through several cordial “Nos.”

Until he walked into Jack Smith’s office.

“He was just incredibly delightful,” Magrill said of the C & C Bank regional manager. “With Jack, it was almost as if . . . we had known him for a long time.”

Mr. Smith put down $500 or $1,000 for the RAP house ? a lot of money at the time, “substantial enough for me to remember,” Magrill said.

He remembers Mr. Smith now as the warm-hearted banker who, after nearly 30 years dealing with money, switched to philanthropy and took his business contacts with him. He showed compassion to runaway youths with what he was able to give. A man who lived by his word, his son said, Mr. Smith taught the children at the RAP House how to communicate, showed them a bigger world.

He died Monday from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Mr. Smith was born 68 years ago in Hammond, Ind. He lived in nearby Lansing, Ill., and ushered in the church. One Sunday, he saw a pretty girl walking in and decided he’d marry her. That was Jean, and three years later, while he was on Christmas leave from the U.S. Navy, they wed. Their honeymoon was a move to San Diego. In 1974, they came to New Port Richey. They had a son, Jeremy, and adopted another, Jeff.

Mr. Smith gave them bear hugs that made everything okay. And lessons. When Jeremy made childhood mistakes, he’d tell his father, “I didn’t mean to do it.”

Mr. Smith responded the same every time: “You didn’t mean to not do it, either.”

Magrill kept in touch through the next decade after Mr. Smith’s donation. He asked Mr. Smith to join the Youth and Family Alternatives board. Mr. Smith retired from banking. He took a part-time job as special events coordinator to raise funds.

Instead of calling potential donors, Mr. Smith would take them on a tour of the RAP House, Jim Simms, YFA’s former director of development, remembers. Usually, they would come through.

Mr. Smith explained one of his maxims in a LinkedIn profile online: “People do business with people they know and they like.”

He coordinated the RAP River Run, a 5K to raise funds and promote awareness for the shelter. Mr. Smith got his nephew to fly a plane up to a small New Port Richey airport so the RAP House teens could explore it. One child announced on the spot that he wanted to become an airplane mechanic. Seeing things like that taught children to take responsibility, Magrill said, to start planning their lives.

Mr. Smith loved classic rock and wanted to be a writer. After Jeff was diagnosed as an adult with Huntington’s disease, an incurable brain disorder, Mr. Smith brought him back home to care for him. On Father’s Day 2001, he bought Jeff a medal and wrote about it in the St. Petersburg Times.

In the column, written in first person, he used the word “I” just three times.

“He didn’t even take credit for something that went well,” Simms said. “Even if he was a primary force in why it went well.”

Visitations will be 5-7 p.m. today and 10-11 a.m. Saturday at Michels and Lundquist Funeral Home, 5228 Trouble Creek Road in New Port Richey. A service immediately follows at the funeral home. Mr. Smith will be buried at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.


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  • November 21, 2013
    The Staff of Michels and Lundquist Funeral Home says:
    Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.

  • November 21, 2013
    Cheryl Ross says:
    Our deepest sympathy and prayers go to Jean, Jeremy and Jeff and the family. I am saddened and shocked to hear of Jack's passing. He was a wonderful man and will be sadly missed by all the lives he touched. I am thankful for having messaged with him many times the past couple years on facebook and have enjoyed catching up with him. The last time being last Sunday, so when this happened on Monday, I was just in shock. Jean, I love you and hope you will know that I am here for you. Cheryl (Owlett) and Steve Ross

  • November 22, 2013
    Array says:
    I am very saddened by the news of Jacks passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jean and the family. Sorry for your loss, Tammy and staff at Special Touch Hair Design

  • November 23, 2013
    Array says:
    Dear Mrs. Smith and Family: We are saddened to hear of Jack's passing. Bev and I enjoyed his humour and comraderie at Tarpon Springs Chamber events when I worked with him on the Chamber Board and we attended Chamber social events. We also enjoyed visiting with him when we were customers at the bank he ran in Tarpon Springs. His open family style of banking encouraged us to send other small business men and women to him to open accounts. When he was running the Tarpon Springs bank, his support of the comminity had a lot to do with Tarpon Springs economic success. You are in our prayers at this difficult time. John Shahan and Beverly Shuler.

  • November 23, 2013
    Robert Todd Smith says:
    Fair winds and following seas, Uncle Jack

  • December 12, 2013
    Karen Giglio says:
    To Jean and Family,
    I will always remember Jack as a man full of life and love. His energy and kindness filled the room every time I had the pleasure to see him. Heaven is now a better place.
    Sincerely,
    Karen Giglio