Ralph James Smith, Jr.— Survivor of the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa, utter pragmatist with the highest ethical standards, and polished raconteur with a wit as dry as a powder keg — died October 12, 2014.

Ralph James Smith, Jr.— Survivor of the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa, utter pragmatist with the highest ethical standards, and polished raconteur with a wit as dry as a powder keg — died October 12, 2014.


Ralph was born August 8, 1923, in Battle Axe (Jackson County), Ark., to Ralph J. Smith, Sr. and Carrie Lindley Smith. His ancestors were early settlers of Jackson County.


He attended Kemper Military School and graduated from Tuckerman High School in 1941. He attended the University of Arkansas until 1943, when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.


He served as a corporal in the Marines during World War II as a member of the 8th 155M gun battalion. He fought in the Pacific theater, including the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa. Throughout his life, he valued having had the opportunity to serve his country. At the conclusion of the war, he re-enrolled in the University of Arkansas. Having been away from the University for a few years, he sought guidance from other students for recommendations on courses and professors. Heeding their advice, he met with a faculty advisor, consulted his notes, and insisted that he avoid Mr. Cole, who had a reputation as a demanding and exacting accounting professor. The advisor scheduled him for a course with a different professor—a class that met on Saturday at 8 a.m. He then signed the registration form: Walter B. Cole. (Despite this awkward introduction, Professor Cole influenced Ralph’s decision to pursue a career as a CPA and served as a mentor and friend to him for many years to come.)


While at the University, Ralph was initiated as Bond #1 in Arkansas Alpha chapter of Phi Delta Theta. He received his B.S. degree in business administration in 1948. Following graduation, he earned his CPA designation and moved to Pine Bluff to work for John H. Talbot & Co. Upon moving to Pine Bluff, he attended First Methodist Church. After a few weeks, he realized that the teaching rotation of the Sunday school class he was attending progressed alphabetically. By the time the roster had reached the Ps, Ralph—never comfortable with public speaking—"felt led" to visit another church, Lakeside Methodist. There, he noticed a radiant young woman in the choir and learned that her name was Martha Sue McLellan—or Moppy, as everyone knew her.


Ralph and Moppy dated until 1954. When she was offered a job with the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., it prompted a long-overdue marriage proposal—memorably, on April Fool’s Day. She turned down the job and accepted the proposal. They were married three weeks later, on April 22, 1954—the first Saturday after the conclusion of tax season.


For nearly forty years, Ralph enjoyed a practice as a self-employed CPA in Pine Bluff, serving on the board of directors and as vice-president of the Arkansas Society of CPAs. He was a member of the AICPA Joint Trial Board.


Ralph was a lifelong United Methodist and longtime member of Lakeside United Methodist Church. He served the church variously as treasurer, trustee, fundraising chair, and as a member of the finance committee, endowment committee, missions work area, and administrative board. He and Moppy were active members of the Wedding Ring Sunday School class until her death in 2009 and his subsequent move to Little Rock. Ralph and Moppy also valued their membership in their supper club for more than five decades, and in retirement Ralph was inducted into the local chapter of ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out).


For many years, Ralph was a member of the Pine Bluff Rotary Club. He volunteered with the Jefferson Regional Hospice program and served on the boards of the Shepherd’s Center and Community Chest (now the United Way). He was a lifelong Boy Scout and was a member of troop committees #93 and #100.


Ralph and Moppy were named Residents of the Year at Trinity Village in Pine Bluff in 2008, and Ralph was honored as Resident of the Month at Parkway Health Center just last month.


Ralph was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Grace Carolyn Smith; brother, Van Smith; and his beloved wife, Moppy.


He is survived by a daughter and son-in-law, Liz and David Russell of Little Rock; two sons and daughters-in-law, Ralph Smith III and Andri Lyons of Austin, Texas, and Tom Smith and Mallary Saltzman of Westfield, New Jersey; five grandchildren, Lucy Baehr (and her husband, Chris), Clara Smith, Ellie Smith, Xan Smith, and Ardy Smith; a great-granddaughter, Harper Baehr; niece, Annabelle Provence (and her husband, Bill) of LaPlace, Louisiana; nephew, Lindley Smith (and his wife, Susan) of Jonesboro; and Moppy’s fourteen nieces and nephews.


The family expresses heartfelt appreciation for Dr. Claudia Tolleson and the compassionate staff at Parkway Health Center for care in recent years, as well as the staff at Trinity Village in Pine Bluff for steadfast support during his unexpected transition to widowhood.


Visitation will be Wednesday evening from 5-7 p.m. at Fuller Hale-South Funeral Chapel. Memorial services will be held Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at Lakeside United Methodist church with Reverend Pam Estes officiating. Interment in Graceland Cemetery will be private.


Memorials may be made to Lakeside United Methodist Church, 1500 S. Olive Street, Pine Bluff, Ark. 71601.


Online condolences may be made at Fuller Funerals.com