Even though my father has passed on to glory in physical form, he’s very much still with me – and us – in spirit. Happy Birthday week dad, born July 1st, 1925.

My dad was a father, husband, small business owner, church deacon, and a giving friend to many. And he was the businessman in our home that I got a chance to see first hand, every day. And I wanted to be in business since as early as I can remember.

Dad was born in the small town of Aberdeen, Mississippi and later built both business and family in Los Angeles, California, the city where I was born, at Good Samaritan Hospital. His father, R.B. Smith, was a farmer and probably a sharecropper born in 1871, also in Mississippi. Then came my father, who become our family’s first small business owner (cement contracting), and later, I became our family’s first entrepreneur. Stages, of growth, with mine built at least partially on my dad’s foundation.

My mother and father divorced when I was about 5 years old, but from that day until his last day, Johnnie Will Smith always behaved and supported me like that which he was — my father.

And as he loved others, many also loved him too. This includes his daughter, my sister, Arlene Hayes, and also my right hand Rachael Doff, whom dad considered to be like a surrogate daughter herself, and dad’s caregiver Adrienne Lee.

On behalf of my mother Ms. Juanita Smith, sisters Mara Hoskins and Arlene Hayes, and big brother Dave “Donnie” Harris, happy birthday dad. You have been Promoted. Hope you are helping to ‘build’ something great for God in Heaven.

Love you dad. Your inspired son, still sitting on your foundation, to build my own.

John Hope Bryant

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