Celebrating the life of Reverend Dr. Malbert Smith, Jr.
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Reverend Malbert Smith, Jr., Pastor Emeritus at Grey Stone Church, Durham, NC, died at his home on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Rev. Smith was born on October 2, 1924 in Durham, NC and was the only child of Adelaide and J. Malbert Smith. He is preceded in death by his first wife, Virginia Little Smith in 2003. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Wake Forest University and his Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Campbell University where he was a Regis Scholar in 1997. He was a beloved and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Rev. Smith committed his life to education and Christian ministry. Before entering the ministry, he was a high school coach and history teacher. In the late 1940s, he began serving as an interim pastor in local churches until he felt God’s call to full time Christian ministry. He served as the senior pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC where he served until 1957. On August 4, 1957 he became the senior pastor of Grey Stone Baptist Church in Durham, NC until his retirement in 2000.
During his life he faithfully adhered to the dual tenets of Christianity, “To love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as thyself”. Rev. Smith was a consistent and constant champion for the underserved and neglected. During his ministry he helped create a number of ‘safe’ homes for victims of domestic violence. He served as Chairman of the Durham County Mental Health Board. He was instrumental in the creation of the Kersey Orphanage and one of the founding board members of Smart Start which was a state wide initiative to provide every child with access to quality, affordable healthcare, and daycare. In 1997, Governor James Hunt awarded Rev. Smith The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest civilian honor.
He is survived by his second wife, Peggy Ridenhour Smith; daughter, Carol Smith Gordon and her husband, Dr. William H. Gordon of Durham; son, Dr. Malbert Smith III and wife, Alisa Smith of Chapel Hill; and 5 grandchildren, Caroline Gordon Barlow and husband, Richard of Pittsboro, Holt Gordon of Durham, Jeni Smith Harrell and husband, Brad of Greensboro, Elizabeth Smith Lattanzio and husband, Steve of Chapel Hill, and Malbert Smith IV of Washington D.C; 5 great-grandchildren, Eliza Harrell, Ryder Harrell, Isabel Lattanzio, Victoria Lattanzio, and Jameson Gordon. His marriage to Peggy in 2005 not only extended the quality of his life but also gave him more children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Peggy’s children are Terry Ridenhour (deceased) and his wife Cathy of Durham, Denise Ridenhour Sykes and husband, Ricky of Bahama; 4 grandchildren, Clif Ridenhour and wife, Jamie of Rock Hill, S.C., and Mandy R. Hughes and husband, Daryl of Wilmington, Brad Sykes and wife, Kristin of Chapel Hill, and Lindsay R. Michalak and husband, Paul of Morehead City; 7 great-grandchildren, Austin Bell, CJ, Maddie, and Ella Ridenhour, Mattix and Savannah Hughes, and Luke Michalak.
Rev. Smith’s optimism, enthusiasm, graciousness, joy, and humor were hallmarks of his life and ministry. Believing in the transformative power of Jesus Christ, he ended most of his services with “the best is yet to come” followed by the benediction, “There’s A Sweet, Sweet Spirit In This Place”. Throughout his life and ministry he “fought the good fight, he finished the race, and he kept the faith”.
The funeral service will be held 2 p.m., Saturday, April 8th at Grey Stone Church with Rev. Clay Waters officiating. Burial will follow at Maplewood Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 7th in the Grey Stone Church sanctuary. Grey Stone Church is located at 2601 Hillsborough Road. Pallbearers will include Dr. Rollin Burhans, Mr. David Sink, Mr. Earl Price, Mr. Harlan Mangum, Dr. Jack Stenner, Mr. Tim Klasson, Mr. Mike Davis, Mr. Rene Osborne, and Mr. Kent Fletcher. Honorary pallbearers will include the members of Dr. Malbert Smith III Bible Class.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Legacy Fund Ministry at Grey Stone Church; 2601 Hillsborough Rd. Durham, NC 27705.
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2601 Hillsborough Rd.
Durham, NC 27705
2601 Hillsborough Rd.
Durham, NC 27705
1621 Duke University Road
Durham, NC 27701