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Vestal Beecher Smith Sr.

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Published: September 7, 2011

Dr. Vestal Beecher Smith Sr., age 86, of Marked Tree, Arkansas, passed away on September 4, 2011 at his home. He was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas on June 12, 1925 to Virgil and Georgia Rhoads Smith. He attended Hot Springs Schools until the 10th grade, when his family moved to Amity, Arkansas. In 1943, he graduated salutatorian of his senior class, and went on to study pre-med at Ouachita Baptist College and New York University during a three year Army stint. He entered The Arkansas College of Medicine in 1946 and graduated in 1950 as a Doctor of Medicine, then returned to the Army for his internship.

He married Melodean Fisher in 1948 and they had three sons, James Ronald, Michael Gene, and Stephen Duane. He served as a battalion surgeon in Germany during the Korean War. After practicing medicine for a short time in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, he and his family moved to Marked Tree, Arkansas where he set up a general practice. In addition to a growing office practice that included many house calls, Dr. Smith delivered babies in private homes and at Verser Hospital in Harrisburg, Arkansas.

After the death of his first wife, he married his wife of 51 years, Mary O. Capooth on October 21, 1960. Together they had one son, Vestal Beecher Smith Jr. Dr. Smith had a busy life that included working six and one half days a week, while always making time to coach Little League baseball and attend all of his boy's many sporting and school events. He was an avid golfer and charter member of the Three Rivers Country Club. In addition to his family life, he was devoted to serving his community. In 1958-1959, he was the Commander of the 326th Medical Detachment of the Arkansas National Guard in Marked Tree.

In 1964, he was president of the Craighead/Poinsett Medical Society and president of the Marked Tree Lions Club. That same year, he was elected to the Marked Tree School Board, on which he served as president until 1980. He served as the examining physician for the Selective Service Board, was on the Poinsett County Red Cross Board, and served as the Poinsett County Health Officer. He was the Medical Director of the Three Rivers Nursing Center from the time it opened in 1963 until 2002. Dr. Smith was honored in 1982 by the City of Marked Tree along with Dr. Glenn Swingle, when the town declared a "Doctor Appreciation Day."

He continued to serve his country as well, and retired as a Colonel in the Army Reserve in 1985. From 1994 until his death, he served on the Marked Tree City Council. He was an active member of the First United Methodist Church in Marked Tree. He taught the Men's Bible Class and served on the Board of Trustees, where he acted as chairman for a number of years. He served on the church Finance and Administrative Council committees, and served for a time on the District Board of Trustees. He was also a current member of the Pastor Parish Committee. He was a devoted member of the chancel choir. He loved the Lord and his Church family and could be counted on to be in attendance when the doors were opened.

Dr. Smith is survived by, his loving wife Mary, four sons, James Ronald Smith of Denver, Colorado, Dr. Michael G. Smith of Maryville, Tennessee, Stephen D. Smith and his wife Cheryl of Gentry, Arkansas, Dr. Vestal B. Smith Jr. and his wife Denise of Little Rock, Arkansas, and one brother, Steve V. Smith of Nashville, Tennessee. He leaves nine grandchildren, Mary Helen, Julia, Michael, Sam, Ruston Beecher, Emily, Corbin, Garrett Vestal and Bethany, two great-grandchildren, Max and Bryan, as well as a devoted caregiver, Janice Stroud of Harrisburg. He also is survived by a host of nieces, nephews and loving friends.

The family wishes to thank St. Bernard Hospice for caring for him in such a loving and professional manner. A memorial service will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Marked Tree, Arkansas on Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be given to the Carpet Fund of the First United Methodist Church in Marked Tree, or to the charity of their choice in his honor. The Reverend Ron Williams will conduct the service.

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