Happy 109th birthday, Sampson County-native Mr. Smith!

John Clark Image
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
  • Razzie Smith
  • Clinton native Mr. Razzie Smith turns 109!
  • Clinton native Mr. Razzie Smith turns 109!
  • Clinton native Mr. Razzie Smith turns 109!
  • Clinton native Mr. Razzie Smith turns 109!
Razzie Smith

CLINTON, North Carolina (WTVD) -- In 1908, the first Model T automobile made its debut and construction began on the Titanic.

And, oh yes, Mr. Razzie Smith was born that year in Sampson County, North Carolina.

You can find Model Ts only in museums now, and the Titanic is long gone. But Razzie Smith is still going strong.

"He has a hearing disability, but his mind is still sharp," niece Cora Miller said.

On Tuesday, Razzie Smith celebrated his 109th birthday.

"He has no diet restrictions," Ms. Miller said with a laugh. "If he wants it and he can get it, he eats it!"

Razzie Smith was born August 8, 1908, and lives in Clinton with his daughter and primary caregiver, Pearl. He and his late wife, Annie, were blessed with 11 children and a grandchild they raised as their own. Today, his influence is felt down through the generations - among his many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren.

"He just loves to visit family and friends," Ms. Miller said. "And he always passes on those memories from childhood."

Such as the time as a boy when he and his family saw an airplane for the first time. They had no idea what it was, so they hid in a tobacco barn until the mysterious flying thing left the area.

Mr. Smith received only a third-grade education after leaving school early to help support his family. That began a long career of hard work - on farms, a sawmill, a nursing home - any place that was hiring.

Those early years were hard, and sometimes Mr. Smith got paid only in peas and fatback. But he did what he had to do to keep food on the table.

A devout Christian, Mr. Smith served as an usher and deacon at Union Star Freewill Baptist Church in Clinton for more than six decades. He loves Psalm 37:23-24: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way. Though he fail, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand."

And on August 12, this "good man" will gather with loved ones once again for a birthday celebration at Fayetteville's Sandpiper restaurant. And niece Cora says if the past is any indication, Razzie Smith will truly enjoy himself.

"He eats anything he wants to," she said, "but home-cooked rice and gravy is his favorite!"