Martin Methodist mourns passing of legendary coach Kermit Smith
PULASKI, Tenn. - A legendary figure in the story of Martin Methodist College for more than a half-century and a larger-than-life presence in junior college athletics in this region and beyond passed away Sunday night.
Dr. Kermit Smith, who served as coach and director of athletics from 1950-1986 and continued his involvement in Martin Methodist until his final days, passed away on Feb. 12, 2012, at Maury Regional Hospital, where he had been admitted two days earlier.
He had been the guest of honor last June at a special 90th birthday celebration at the college attended by family and friends.
"The greatest experience I had was my years at Martin Methodist College," he told the 125 people who gathered for the occasion.
In 1950, a small, two-year Methodist school called Martin College needed someone with Smith's qualifications, so he took the job, becoming the basketball, baseball, tennis and golf coach, as well as serving as director of athletics. He would spend the next 36 years teaching and coaching there, and another 26 years there in retirement as one of the college's most beloved living legends.
"The position was at a Methodist college and having grown up in a small Methodist church in Arkansas, that attracted me," he said during an interview following his 90th birthday celebration. "Once I came here, I fell in love with the college and the community."
"Coach Smith was a fixture on the campus of Martin Methodist College, having served devotedly as coach and athletic director for decades," said Dr. Ted Brown, president of Martin Methodist College. "We will miss his winsome way and his contagious love for this institution."
"Kermit Smith continued to be a very positive influence on the growth of Martin Methodist College throughout his life," said Jeff Bain, director of athletics. "He visited our campus every week, even last week. He was excited about the progress of both our men's and women's basketball teams and the start-up of our spring sports. To say that he was still engaged is a understatement of his passion for Martin Methodist. The successes that we enjoy today are built on the foundation that Coach Smith laid throughout his lifetime. We will sincerely miss him."
Visitation will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at Bennett-May-Giles County Funeral Home in Pulaski. The funeral service will follow at 6 p.m. with the Rev. Garie Taylor, the Rev. Whitney Mitchell, former Coach Jimmy Earle and Pat Hendrix of the Pulaski Recreation Department officiating. A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at Maplewood Cemetery in Pulaski.
The family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Kermit Smith Scholarship Fund at Martin Methodist College.