James Wickham Smith, 81, of Mathews, died March 21, 2019, at his home in Moon. He was born September 16, 1937 at Old Field Point Plantation in Moon to the late Luther Seabrook Smith and Ruth Elizabeth Murden Smith. He was preceded in death by seven sisters, Katherine Franklin Smith Traylor, Jessie Lee Smith Hudgins, Harriett Ann Smith Farmer, Ruth Elizabeth Smith Drew, Lucy Seabrook Smith Groome, Virginia Smith Love, and Florence Meads Smith Morris, and two brothers, William Luther Seabrook Smith and David Walter Murden Smith. He is survived by his wife of fifty-two years, Carolyn Foster Bailey Smith, son James Richard Smith (Dawna) and daughter Lynda Carol Smith Greve (Drew) both of Mathews; five grandchildren, Brittany Ann Owens, Melody Bailey Smith, Harmony Elizabeth Smith, Andrew Richard Greve, and Adam Foster Greve; a sister, Joice Billups Smith Davis, and sister-in-law, Mary Wade Hudgins Smith, both of Mathews; and many loving nieces and nephews and extended family.
He graduated from Mathews High School in 1955. After a brief service in the US Army, he returned home to help care for his aging parents. He went to work for Automatic Electric in 1960. He began his career with Tidewater Telephone Company (later Contel, and GTE) in Gloucester in 1961, as a lineman and field person in the engineering department. Later he served as the Outside Plant Engineering Manager for the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck. He retired from GTE in 1993 after 34 years of service. In his retirement, he obtained his Paralegal Certificate from Old Dominion University, and continued to work part-time as an Oversight Provider for Puraflo Sewage Treatment System installations in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.
As a youth, his mother would send him on his pony to attend Salem United Methodist Church. After his marriage he joined Ebenezer Baptist Church in Gloucester where he served as a deacon and choir director for over thirty years. More recently, he returned to his home church in Mathews, Salem UMC. Since early childhood, Jimmy had been exposed to music by his mother and older sisters and developed a special love of country music. In 1975, he was one of the founding partners of Virginia’s Li’l Ole Opry at Donks Theater, where he delighted generations of audiences as singer and emcee, “Uncle Jimmy Wickham, the Mayor of Moon City.” With the support of his wife, his sister, his nieces, friends and extended family, he brought homespun humor and family entertainment to southeastern Virginia for over forty years. His children and family are proudly continuing his legacy of laughter and song.
He was a fifty-three-year Master Mason and lifetime member in perpetuity of Oriental Lodge #20 of ancient free and accepted masons, where he served as Worshipful Master in 1974. He was member of Urbanna Royal Arch Chapter #59, and a thirty-second degree mason of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, Valley of Newport News. He was also a member of Khedive Shriners of Chesapeake, VA, and past president of the Tidewater Shrine Club of Khedive Temple.
There will be a visitation Sunday, March 24 from 4-7 PM, with Masonic Rites at 6:30 PM at Salem United Methodist Church, Diggs, Virginia. Funeral services will be held Monday, March 25 at 11:00 AM at Salem, with interment following at Old Field Point Cemetery in Moon.
Memorial donations may be made to the Mathews Volunteer Fire Department, Mathews Rescue Squad, or Salem United Methodist Church. Faulkner Funeral Homes, Foster-Faulkner Chapel in Mathews is assisting the Smith family.