Many people do not even dream of being 100 years old. For yet another Sampson citizen, that goal has been reached, and come Wednesday, Aug. 8, Razzie Smith will be four years older than even that.
Smith was born on Aug. 8, 1908 in Sampson County. Theodore Roosevelt was president and William Taft took office shortly after his birth. Smith was one of nine children born to his parents Jim Smith and Hettie Frederick Smith. He was married to Annie Smith in 1930 at the Sampson County Courthouse. The couple were married for 80 years. His wife passed away in 2010.
Smith and his wife were blessed with 11 children, four are deceased. His only surviving daughter, Annie Smith, is his caretaker now and was present during the interview along with his nephew, George Wilson. Annie shared that her parents actually raised 12 children in that her oldest sister’s son, only months younger than she, was also raised by her parents and she feels like he is a brother.
Razzie shared that he only completed the third grade because he helped his father earn a living as a farmer. “My dad bought some land in the woods outside of Turkey and we spent a lot of time clearing the bushes, trees and brush from the land by hand so we could farm. It was really hard work,” he explained.
Even though Smith was not fortunate enough to get a formal education, he was always willing to learn. His parents taught him a good work ethic and he transferred it to his family, he said.
“After we cleared the land, I helped by dad grow cotton. It was hard work because we had to do all the work by hand. We could not afford mules but daddy would borrow a team to help when he could,” explained Smith.
The gentleman shared that the first time his mother saw an airplane she gathered all the children and put them under the house for safety. “She had no idea what that plane was so she took care of us the best she knew how,” stated Razzie.
After getting married Smith continued to farm, but he eventually went to work at George Flemming’s saw mill. He worked there for 17 years before Hurricane Hazel came through in 1954 and destroyed the business.
Smith went back to farming. “After Hazel, I farmed some; eventually Emsley Kennedy opened a lumber mill and I worked there until I retired,” recalled Smith.
According to his great niece, Cora Miller, Smith did not know anything but hard work.
“He would do manual labor from sun up to sun down in order to provide for his family. He has worked asa farm laborer, mill worker, janitor and landscaper. He did landscaping through age 99. He taught his children the value of good work ethics, too” remarked Miller.
Smith commented that Hoover times were very hard and it was difficult for everyone to find work and provide for their families.
Smith’s daughter shared that her father traveled everywhere to find work for the family. “He went from Florida to Canada to support his family. He never went without. He has always been a great provider,” said Annie Smith.
The gentleman could not list a specific invention or product that made his life better buthe did mention indoor plumbing, electricity, tractors and cars, refrigerators and radios as impressive — and needed — inventions during his lifetime. His first car was a Model T and he said he felt he was really going somewhere when he got that first vehicle.
Razzie shared he would work many days for just 50 cent to provide for his family.
Smith did not stop driving until he turned 99 and that, according to his daughter, was when he went to renew his license and the office was closed. She declared it was a sign from God that he should stop driving.
After he retired from the lumber yard, Smith decided to pick up landscaping and mowing grass. Eventually he found himself taking care of many of the yards in Coharie Acres.
“Dr. Nance and Dr. Kitchin were some of my best customers. I would keep their yard mowed with my push mower even when they were on vacation,” noted Smith.
“Daddy could be seen loading that push mower in the back of his car at 7 a.m. and he would go do yard work until noon. He would come home to eat then he would head back to work and get home about 7 p.m. He would do that six days a week. But come Sunday, he was always in church,” expressed Smith’s daughter.
Razzie continued to do landscaping and mowing even in 100 degree temperatures until he was nearly 100.
Smith is a member of Union Star Original Free Will Baptist Church in Clinton.
Nowadays, he said, he looks forward to visits from his family. He eats whatever he wants but, according to his daughter, he wants it when it is time to eat.
“He loves sodas, especially orange. Fish, chicken and beef are his favorite meats,” shared Miller.
He attributes his long life to loving God, being a Christian, loving his family, and many years of hard work. When he was in his best health, through the age of 100, he did what he wanted, whenever he wanted. He preferred to stay busy, he said.
Smith’s faith is very important and a vital part of his long life. One of his favorite scriptures is Psalm 37:23-24: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighted in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”
His advice to people today is to live right, trust in God and treat people like you want to be treated.
“You need to trust God and eat right and be ready. Things may be good now but they will likely get worse in the time to come. It is important that you are prepared,” remarked Smith.
At nearly 104, Razzie has a sharp mind even with declining hearing and far shorter steps. Even in his golden years, he is still a sharp dresser with an acute sense of fashion coordination. Smith has a story to tell to anyone willing to take the time to visit and is willing to share his life experiences to all who will listen.