Oce Worthington Smith Jr., 76, of Fairmont, passed away on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, at the Arbor’s at Fairmont Nursing Center.
He was born in Barrackville, on January 4, 1938, the son of the late Oce Worthington Smith Sr. and Norma “Polly” Margaret Lough Smith.
Mr. Smith was preceded in death by his loving wife Carol Ann Bunner Smith.
Oce was raised on a farm in the community of Monumental on the outskirts of that town and was very proud of his heavy American Indian and English/Scots-Irish heritage. He graduated from the old Barrackville High School in a class of 24 students, graduated from Fairmont State College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and went on to do his post graduate work in Political Science at West Virginia University.
It is difficult to figure how he ever got out of high school and college, even though the length of the legislative sessions were then only thirty days every year or every other year. There were then no Interim Committee Sessions, and the Special Sessions were rare to none. But with the liberal allowance of the Marion County Board of Education and the State of West Virginia, he managed to sandwich in the positions of the first Head Page of the State House of Delegates, as well as close periodic visits to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senators Matthew Mansfield Neely and Jennings Randolph, a few positions in the off seasons with every governor whom we had in the fifties through the beginning of the nineties and of course, his half century, plus, association with the current Fairmont Times West Virginian and the writing of personal editorial and feature columns and book excerpts for them and other publications.
Mr. Smith began his career as a sportswriter, and acted once in a repertory company in Summer Stock in the Poconos with some Academy Award winning players. He taught school briefly, and was a licensed Realtor and property appraiser for more than twenty-five years. Finally, he gave up everything except his legislative work and his newspaper and writing profession, along with still maintaining a busy speaking & lecturing schedule, because he “can’t get around adroitly as he used to”. He was the senior member of the board of directors of the North Central West Virginia Airport Authority, a former president of the Fairmont Board of Realtors, and he served on the board of directors of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce.
He was a member of Fairmont Masonic Lodge #9 A.F. & A.M., 32nd Degree Mason within the Scottish Rite Bodies, Wheeling Consistory, and the Beni Kedem Temple, A.A.O.N.M. Shrine. He was also a lifetime member of the Fairmont State University and West Virginia University Alumni and Letterman’s Associations.
Oce was protestant by faith and helped found the National Legislative Services & Security Association in the early seventies, and was the last living founder still in office.
He was the longest serving legislative officer in West Virginia and perhaps in the United States and was Sergeant-At-Arms of the House of Delegates, starting in January of 1967, following many years of service with the House in a number of other posts. Oce has been honored with the distinguished “Award in Letters” by the Fairmont Arts & Humanities Commission; the “Alumni of Achievement” Award by Fairmont State University; he has a bridge named for him in his native Barrackville; has been chosen by The State Journal as “One of West Virginia’s Fifty-five Greatest Assets”. He has been declared the “Official Walking Encyclopedia of the History of Marion County” by the Marion County Commission for his “Lifetime of Work and Achievements on Behalf of the Citizens of Fairmont, Barrackville, and Marion County”. He was granted the “Certificate of Dedication to the Protection of Wildlife” by the West Virginia Wildlife Association. Mr. Smith was inducted into “The Order of the 35th Star”, the highest honor which can be bestowed by the state of West Virginia, by Governor Joe Manchin III. He was named “Democrat of the Month” by the Marion County Democrat Men’s Club and was named a “Distinguished West Virginian” by two different governors. Oce received the 32nd prestigious “Tony Beard, Sr. Memorial Award” by the National Legislative Services & Security Association”, the most elevated honor which can be given by the legislative services and security profession in America. In 2008, he was chosen as a Presidential Elector of the West Virginia Democratic Party. Through the influence of friends across the country, he was on a close corresponding basis with a great many of the best known names of the day in politics, athletics and the entertainment world. He was involved with the families of almost all of the major political candidates in West Virginia of the last fifty-five years, including having traveled much with the Kennedy family in 1960. Oce was a television election & political analyst, and has spoken in forty two states to various gubernatorial and legislative groups on behalf of the state of West Virginia. It has been said that Oce Smith knows more people, or is known by more people, aside from the governor and the two U.S. Senators than anybody else in the state.
Oce is survived by his son, Oce Smith III and his wife Shelly of Morgantown and his two grandsons, Oce “Sonny” Smith IV and Joey Smith. Serving as honorary pall bearers will be Jim Moon, John Veasey , Bob Stoltz, Robin Stoltz, Andy Kniceley, Mike Caputo, John Roberts, Congressman Nick Rahall and Congressman Alan Mollohan.
The family will receive friends at Ford Funeral Home, Ford Chapel, 201 Columbia St., Fairmont, WV 26554, on Friday, October 17, 2014, from 12 Noon until 8 p.m. and on Saturday, October 18, 2014, from 12 Noon until 2 p.m. The funeral service will be held in the funeral home on Saturday, October 18, 2014, at 2 p.m. with Pastor D.D. Meighen officiating. A committal service will follow at Monumental Cemetery. Fairmont Masonic Lodge #9 A.F. & A.M. will conduct ritualistic services at graveside.