A New Year’s Salute to our Late Father — Mr. Johnie Will Smith
Last night, exactly one year on New Year's Eve, our dad passed on to be with our Lord. Or as I said at the time of his passing, dad has been 'promoted.' Gone on to a better place.
Today, we remember him.
My mother remembers dad mostly for how he treated her children, even though he was not their birth father (my sister Montie, and my brother Donnie). He treated them like they were his own, loving them unconditionally.
My brother Donnie (Dave "Donnie" Harris) remembers dad for his unconditional love, and how he encouraged him to read the Bible, and to keep his heart in Jesus. He taught him math by learning the time tables.
My sister Montie (Mara "Montie" Harris) remembers dad for how patient he was with her. How he taught her multiplication as a child. She remembers how at 10 years old, he took her to Beverly Hills for the first time, to get her first set heels. She even remembers it was grey. She remembers when she cut her hair to be like the other kids in class, and the cutting didn't go so well. Dad stood up for her in class so she wouldn't take a beating.
My sister Arleen learned how to be independent and determined. She even became proficient in the industry dad worked his life in, construction.
My dad gave me my work ethic and in many ways, I wear suits today, because my dad wore suits when I was a child. He was a businessman, and today, I am one.
Dad was able to experience many of my high points in my life, and now we want to make sure we remember and honor him. Below are a couple pieces I wrote when he passed last year.
When a Father Gets Promoted.
The Home Going of Johnie Will Smith.
Finally, my sister and I have put together a Scholarship Fund in his honor. Family, friends and I funded the first scholarship awards for this year, with special support from our sister Montie, who spent a lot of her personal time administering it. Introducing the Johnie Will Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Dad, you are still with us. Your legacy lives.
John Hope Bryant
Mara "Montie" Harris
Dave "Donnie" Harris
Juanita Murray Smith