James Hibbard Smith, 82, of Reynoldsburg, OH and formerly of Maysville, KY died after a brief illness on August 18, 2021. He was born December 23, 1938, the third of five sons born to the late Cora Belle Hibbard Smith and Herbert Roger Smith of Ashland, KY. He was preceded in death by his brother, Walter, and mother-in-law, Norma Heberle.
Surviving to grieve their loss and cherish his memory are his loving wife, Christine; brothers Fred of Chicago, William (Nancy) of Seattle and Thom (Sally) of Oakland, CA; sisters-in-law Marlene Smith of Port Townsend, WA, Karen (Jim) Pilewski of Eastlake, OH, Connie (Jack) Faulkner of Lake City, PA, and Mary Szpara of Millcreek, PA; brother-in-law Kenneth (Brenda) Heberle of Botkins, OH, Kevin (Barbara) Heberle of Indian Lands, SC and Craig (Kim) Heberle of Conneaut Lake, PA; his children Jim (Cathy) Smith of Burlington, NC, Jill (Justin) Steiner of Valparaiso, IN and Andrew Smith of Greensborough, NC; his stepchildren Brenda (Chad) Goble of Reynoldsburg, Julie (David) Gustafson of Nederland, CO, Daniel (Angie) McGarvey of
Richmond, VA, and Susan McGarvey of Reynoldsburg; his grandchildren Paul and Alexander Smith, Grant Steiner, Kellan and Mia Goble, Evelyn and Ruby Gustafson, Norma and Flint McGarvey, Gabriel and Rachel Chrysler and Meredith Zeallear; many nieces and nephews and a lifetime of friends.
Jim attended school in Ashland through eleventh grade before transferring to Fort Lauderdale High School. He enjoyed recounting that his class rank improved several places after moving from the small Ashland High School to the much larger Fort Lauderdale High School, and he credited his acceptance to and scholarship from the University of Chicago to that move. He remained a proud honorary member of Ashland High School, class of 1956, and attended many reunions over the decades. He received a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts in 1961, and in 1962, an MBA in Accounting from the University of Chicago, and later, in January, 1987, a J.D. from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. When asked why the law degree, he answered, "for the fun of it."
A self-described "numbers man," Jim worked as a CPA in many capacities for his entire career. He began his career in Chicago where he was an accountant and supervising accountant at Ernst & Ernst, then CFO at COE Dental Laboratories where he also began his involvement with the CAL-LAB Dental Manufacturing Association of which he became the Executive Director, a position he enjoyed for decades. He later became CFO at DenMat in Santa Maria, CA. Tiring of the corporate world, he decided to purchase a small CPA practice In Maysville KY, where he provided tax accounting and bookkeeping services to hundreds of clients, and auditing services to dozens of public entities and nonprofit organizations. He was devoted to the service of his clients, many of whom became his friends as well. He was tireless as an auditor and built his successful and gratifying practice gradually through hard work, an impeccable reputation, unfailing courtesy, and the good fortune that allows those traits to translate to success. Jim was also a master of time management and multi tasking, that allowed him to pursue his outdoor passions with gusto. He loved his work, his family, classical music, hiking, traveling and sail boarding.
Jim was cautious and deliberate in most of his life choices, but when he met Christine he threw caution to the wind, sold his CPA practice and his home, and moved to Reynoldsburg. Chris and Jim were married at Niagara Falls in 2005 and indulged their mutual love of their families, music, art, hiking, traveling and one another for the next 15 years. Most everything they enjoyed, they enjoyed together. Jim poured his energy into planning their trips, and there was always a next one to look forward to, as well as wonderful memories.
Jim eagerly embraced Christine's large family and they became his own. He enjoyed the role of Gramps to his own three grandsons, and Grandpa Jim to Christine's who eventually numbered nine. Each was special to him and he participated in their lives as much as possible. He felt a unique bond with each grandchild, and they enriched his life immeasurably.
As a husband and family man, Jim was easy to love, eager to be loved, determinedly optimistic, energetic and full of dreams. As a person he was dignified, respected and respectful, honest, kind, somewhat shy and very generous. Jim was a gentleman and a gentle man. Jim was more than content, he was delighted with his life and considered himself a most fortunate man.
Jim needed to take immunosuppressive medication for his autoimmune diseases. He died after 11 days in a fine hospital getting the best care available because his immunocompromised body could not mount a defense against the pneumonia that was ravaging his lungs. In light of this, and because his grieving family includes other immunocompromised and vulnerable members, the family requires all over age 12 who wish to join them in the services and celebration of Jim's life to be fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, and wear a mask to protect others from asymptomatic spread. Vaccinated family and friends are invited to visit Jim's family from 2-3 PM on Saturday, August 28 at Cotner Funeral Home, 7369 E. Main St. in Reynoldsburg, where a memorial service will follow at 3 PM.
The services will be available via Zoom for those who cannot be there in person for any reason. Please contact Jim’s family for instructions. For those wishing to make a memorial contribution in Jim's name, the family respectfully suggests Heart Food Pantry, 6475 E. Main St.,
Reynoldsburg, OH; or Joseph's Coat, 240 Outerbelt St., Columbus OH 43213.
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