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Rudy Rodie Smith

Rudy Rodie Smith was born June 17, 1931, in Rockwood to Raymond H. Smith and Mary Emery Smith.

He attended Rockwood School in Franklin County. At the age of 13, Rudy went to Big Ben, Calif., to work on Uncle Art Harper’s ranch (Father Raymond’s brother-in-law) in order to help support his family. It was a cattle ranch, about five miles to a country store and the U.S. Post Office. Rudy returned back to the Russellville area at 14.5 to be near his family.

At the age of 15, Rudy joined the United States Army and went to Fort Dix, N.J., for eight weeks of basic training. At the end of World War II, Rudy spent his 16th birthday in Tokyo, Japan (1946) as part of Occupational Forces, earning the Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp. From there he went to Fort Meade, Md., and was honorably discharged at the age of 16.

Rudy returned to Russellville and worked at a cotton mill for four months. He rejoined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Fort Devens, Mass., for one year, where he built bridges for the Army.

Rudy was then stationed in Korea during the Korean War between 1949-1951 for 16 months, receiving the Korean Service Medal with three Bronze Stars and the United Nations Service Medal, reaching the rank of staff sergeant. He was honorably discharged again from the Army at the age of 21 and went back to Russellville, where he owned a restaurant, Crestview Drive Inn.

Rudy married Joyce Jewel Washington when he was 22 years old and she was 20.

Rudy went back to the service of his country after he married. He was stationed in Fort Jackson, S.C. Rudy and Jewel’s first child was born in Russellville in 1955, Rudy Dale Smith. While stationed in Fort Benning, Ga., their daughter, Shirley Ann Smith, was born in 1956. They received military orders for Heidelburg, Germany, where in 1958, their youngest child was born, Larry Dean Smith.

The Smiths were then transferred to Fort Meade, Md., and lived there approximately two years. They went back to Germany for a short stay and then on to Fort Leonardwood, Mo., and stayed for another year.

In 1965, 1st Sgt. Rudy R. Smith of the Combat Engineers went to war in Vietnam, where in 1967 he was awarded the Bronze Star for, among other things, “his vigorous leadership at all levels and exceptional devotion to duty resulted in unparalleled and unprecedented accomplishments by this unit.” Being overrun by Viet Cong, 1st Sgt. Smith suffered a heart attack while under heavy fire and evacuation by helicopter. He was later transferred to Fort Gordon, Ga. Rudy spent one year recovering at Fort Gordon.

In October 1967, 1st Sgt. Rudy Rodie Smith, at the age of 35, retired from the United States Army after 20 years of service to his country.

Rudy R. Smith earned his GED and went on to earn an associate’s degree in criminal justice while he served in the military. In 1969 he went to work for the City of Littleville as chief of police and during that time ran for sheriff of Franklin County.

In 1970 he went to work for the Alabama Beverage Control Board (ABC agent) and worked in Huntsville as a liquor license inspector for the State of Alabama. He was transferred to Franklin County as a law agent I and worked with Deputy (later Sheriff) Larry Plott of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department combating the illegal sale of alcohol in the “dry counties” of northwest Alabama. He was transferred to Birmingham and retired from the ABC agent position in 1981.

After his retirement, Rudy and Jewell moved to Mary Esther, Fla., in 1982. They lived in Mary Esther, Fla., for 12 years and enjoyed entertaining family and friends during their stay in Florida. In October 1994, they moved to Killen.

Since the passing of Jewel, Rudy has continued to live a full life in the Florence area, enjoying the addition of nine great-grandchildren.

What a life!

Rudy Smith was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Joyce Jewel Smith; his parents, Raymond and Mary Smith; brothers, Harold, Paul, Romie and Daniel; sisters, Betty Jean Carruth, Verlon Smith and Shirley Smith; and nephew, Terry Smith.

He is survived by his four children and their spouses – Barry Albrecht (Leola), Rudy Dale Smith (Leta), Dr. Shirley Coker (Barry) and Larry Smith (Kimberly); six grandchildren and spouses – Shannon Smith (Kerby), Dr. Brad Coker (Amy), Chris Smith (Kim), Sarah Gray (Dick), Tiger Smith and Rory Smith; and nine great-grandchildren – Mary Hadley Smith, Ella Rose Gray, Mallie Kate Coker, Kali-Ann Jewel Smith, Hayden Smith, Rhett Coker, Layla Grayce Gray, Maddie Belle Smith and Olivia Reece Coker. Additionally he is survived by brother David Smith, sister-in-law Imogene Smith and many nephews and nieces.

Mr. Smith will be laid to rest at Tri-Cities Memorial Gardens with a private graveside service.

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