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Legacy: Bernal Elery Smith Sr.

Bernal E. Smith Sr., who served as Senior Vice President of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, passed away on Jan. 21, 2011. A native of Houma, La., Mr. Smith was 66.
 Bernal E. Smith Sr.

Bernal E. Smith Sr., who served as Senior Vice President of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, passed away on Jan. 21, 2011. A native of Houma, La., Mr. Smith was 66.

In 1967, Mr. Smith joined the Boys and Girls Club as a program director at Goodwill Boys Club. He later became Director of Dixie Homes Boys Club and also worked as a Club Director at John Dustin Buckman (formerly Vollintine) Boys and Girls Club.  In 1992, he accepted the role as Director of Operations with the organization and also served as the acting President.  

Mr. Smith was a past president of the Boys Club Professional Association, Mid South Chapter, and a past member of the National Board of Directors of the Boys Club Professional Association. His legacy reflects scores of productive citizens and future community contributors that he helped guide and develop through his work.

A member of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, Westwood, Mr. Smith was Chairman of the Deacon Board for over 10 years. His steadfast love and dedication to the church yielded the Sherman Johnson Award for Distinguished Service.

Mr. Smith is a graduate of Grambling State University and is a former President of GSU’s Memphis Bluff City Alumni Chapter. Throughout his life, he received numerous accolades for his community service. A committed man who loved being involved, Mr. Smith was a winner of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s National Professional Service Award (the highest award given to a club professional); the Regional Herman S. Prescott Award; the local Ira Samelson Jr. Distinguished Service Award; and The Julian B. Philips Award for over 40 years of outstanding service.

He chaired the Mid-South Chapter of The Professional Association (TPA) and served as a board member of the national board; served as chair of the South East Administrative Conference; served as a career coach through Boys & Girls Clubs of America Career Assistance Network; and he was inducted into the Boys and Girls Club of America’s Masters and Mentors program, joining an elite group of 47 legacy leaders. As a result of this honor, a bust of Mr. Smith is located at the Boys and Girls Club Headquarters in Atlanta.

 He was a member of the South East Diversity committee and served on the Training and Professional Development committee. He was also member of Kiwanis Club of Memphis. In 2009, Mr. Smith was honored by the Tri-State Defender as a Man of Excellence and was inducted into the Memphis African American Hall of Fame in May 2010.

Mr. Smith is survived by his wife of 46 years, Emerle D. Smith; three children, Karen C. Rice (Clinton), Bernal E. Smith II (Towanda) and Cher nika D. Smith; three granddaughters, Kayla Rice, Brianna Smith and Kristin Rice; two grandsons, Bryndon Smith and Braylon Smith; four brothers, Webster Smith (Nina Ware) and Ronnie Smith of Los Angeles, Calif., Lionel Smith of Denver, Colo., and Alexander Bass of Houma, La.; an uncle, Peter LaBatt (Joyce) of Mitchellville, Md.; and a host of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Elisha Smith; his mother, Rosemary Lirette; aunt, Mamie Smith; sister-in laws, Linda Perry and Kim Smith; and his youngest brother, Gregory Perry.

The wake for Mr. Smith will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Mt. Vernon Church at 620 Parkrose. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Mt. Vernon Church. R.S. Lewis Funeral Home has charge.

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