James Wendell Smith, 65, rode off to heaven Saturday, Feb. 9. Wendell died at home, surrounded by his loving family and friends and his dog, Four. The son of the late Homer E. Smith and Jewel Gates Smith, he was born Sept. 13, 1947, at the Saline County community of Kentucky. Wendell was a 1967 graduate of Fuller High School in Little Rock where he played football. He was a Seabee in the United States Navy and served in Vietnam. Wendell was a longtime employee of United Parcel Service in Little Rock. He was one of the first employees of UPS when the company opened an operation in Little Rock. Wendell retired in 2004. Wendellâ€™s lifelong love and passion was horses. Since he was a teen-ager, Wendell always had a horse. Through the years, he participated in rodeo events, including saddle-bronc riding and team roping. He also enjoyed chuck-wagon racing. His latest endeavor was Smith Farm and Racing. Shake 'em Lady was his winning horse at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla. He was a member of American Quarter Horse Association.
Wendell was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Michael Don Smith; and his cousin, Tommy Earnest Wilson. Wendell is survived by his daughter, Carrie Ellen Smith Blanford and husband Doug and their children, Maxx, Mary Kathryn and Rachel Blanford of Sardis; Carrieâ€™s mother, Judy Farmer Sellers; nieces Laura Smith of Boston and Tara Smith of Little Rock; his devoted and special â€ślong, tall drink of water,â€ť Phyllis Scott and her children and family; sister-in-law Becky Smith of Romance; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, especially longtime friend Mary Kling, who also served as one of his caretakers during his last days.
Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Feb 13, at Smith Family Funeral Home, Benton Chapel in Benton. Burial will follow at Kentucky Cemetery in Benton.
A visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb.12, at the funeral home.
Online guest book: www.smithfamilycares.com.