Carolyn grew up in a close-knit, rural community in the central state, sand hills region of North Carolina, in a small house that her father, grandfather and uncle built during the Second World War. She attended and graduated from West End High School in 1959.
Her father worked as a manager in a furniture factory and her mother worked as a bank teller. Carolyn’s father was a faithful spiritual leader of his family, his church and his community, often volunteering to help others in need. She was raised in a loving home with deeply-held convictions about faith, family and community. Following in her father’s footsteps, Carolyn would dedicate her entire life to the service of her family and others.
Carolyn was not only the apple of her father’s eye, she was also recognized by others through a number of leadership roles representing her school and her community. Among them, she was named Miss Senior of West End High School in 1959, as well as Homecoming Queen that same year. She then won first place as Miss Robbins and was also named Miss Moore County. She advanced to win first runner-up in the Miss North Carolina pageant and was one of two contestants who was then sent to represent the state of North Carolina in the Miss America pageant.
With that achievement, Carolyn was awarded a scholarship to attend college. She initially planned to attend East Carolina State University to pursue a degree in education to become a teacher. However, her father encouraged her to consider becoming a nurse instead. They agreed that Carolyn would matriculate to High Point School of Nursing. If she was unhappy with the decision after completing the first year, her father would support her transfer to another school and field of study.
Carolyn graduated from High Point School of Nursing in 1963. She accepted nursing assignments in Baltimore and Washington, DC. Looking back she felt it was the hand of God, Who in His providence guided her toward a divine appointment. While on a nursing assignment in the ER at a hospital in Winston-Salem, she met the love of her life – a young surgeon named Joel Perry Smith, Jr.
The two wed in 1965 in Pinehurst, North Carolina and moved to Tampa, Florida where Dr. Smith became the Chief of the Department of Otolaryngology at the US Strategic Air Command, MacDill AFB. That same year, Carolyn’s father suffered a debilitating stroke and remained bed-ridden for seven years until his passing. Carolyn frequently traveled back to her parents’ home to help care for her father, utilizing the nursing training which he had strongly encouraged her to attain.
In 1967, Joel and Carolyn moved to Atlanta and joined Joel’s father (also a surgeon) to develop their private medical/surgical practice. Carolyn assisted her husband by helping to manage the practice, overseeing the office, supporting the nursing needs and the bookkeeping responsibilities.
The two worked with others to help found a new physician-owned hospital named Doctors Memorial Hospital (later becoming part of Emory University Midtown). They helped create a volunteer women’s auxiliary group that enhanced many hospital services for patients and families in need.
Carolyn continued her practice of serving others throughout her lifetime. After twice surviving bouts with cancer she served as a volunteer on a team of “Pink Ladies” with the Piedmont Hospital Women’s Auxiliary team to help patients navigate their cancer diagnoses with strength, purpose and dignity.
Carolyn and Joel were steadfastly devoted to one another for 56 years, until Joel’s death in 2021. Despite dealing with a very serious progressive lung condition of her own, Carolyn faithfully served as Joel’s primary caregiver during his advanced years. The two continued to enjoy studying scripture and praying together, taking advantage of every day they were given. Many reflected on the tender and sweet love they shared for each other throughout the challenges and triumphs of their life, spanning the near six decades they shared together.
Although successful and accomplished by many measures, Carolyn most treasured her family and she believed that love, service and devotion to her family was a high honor, a great privilege and a blessing.
Carolyn’s love of family was surpassed only by her personal relationship with, and devotion to, her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Carolyn was a devout follower of Jesus Christ and her faith was the focal point of her life. Dr. and Mrs. Smith were active members of The Church of the Apostles for over 30 years where she served as a lay leader of the church’s prayer ministry and a fervent prayer warrior. She leaves a legacy of love for God and family that has had, and will continue to have, a multi-generational impact for the Kingdom of God.
Everyone who knew Carolyn regarded her as a merciful, kind and compassionate woman who was fiercely loyal to those she knew and loved. She was universally liked, appreciated and respected by all who had the good fortune to know her. Her life was characterized by her unfailing devotion to serving others in a way that brought honor to her faith, family and community.
Carolyn is survived by her children, Joel Smith, III (Shae), Preston Smith (Liz), Elizabeth Carroll (Kells) and her thirteen grandchildren, Joel IV, Tali, Hunter, Preston, Jr., Christi, Jordan, Marshall, Abigail, Lydia, Brayden, Carson, David and Grace. She is preceded in death by her parents Virgil and Anne Williams and by her husband Joel.
The Smith family will receive visitors at H.M. Patterson and Son – Arlington Chapel (Sandy Springs) from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, April 11th. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 12th at The Church of the Apostles, followed by interment at Hillview Cemetery, LaGrange, GA at 3:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent in Mrs. Carolyn Smith’s name to The Church of the Apostles, 3585 Northside Parkway, NW Atlanta, GA 30327 or to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 East Ohio Street, Suite 500, Chicago, IL, 60611.
Published by Marietta Daily Journal on Apr. 12, 2022.