Funeral services were held Saturday, March 17, 2018, at New Zion M. B. Church in Oakvale for Mr. Arvester (Pop) Smith, 65, who died Tuesday, March 6, 2018, at Mississippi Baptist Hospital in Jackson. Rev. Michael Evans officiated, with interment following in the church cemetery. Johnson Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Mr. Arvester Smith was born to the late L. B. and Almeda Moore Smith in the Arm community. He joined China Lee M. B. Church and attended Beulah Williams Elementary School. He later moved to Oakvale and joined New Zion M. B. Church, where he was a Sunday School teacher, treasurer of Sunday School and secretary, member of the music department and president of the usher board.
He attended J. E. Johnson High School, Prentiss Normal and Industrial Institute and was a graduate of Alcorn State University with a bachelor degree in Agriculture. He was married to Norma Townsend.
He worked at Lampton Company, Five County Child Development, the oil fields where he became the first African American driller in the Gulf of Mexico in 1979, and later began working at Rod Paige Middle School for 18 years as a teacher. He served as coach and took the girls’ basketball team to the state championship.
He was a member of the Mississippi High School Athletic Association, Officiating Union, Who’s Who Teacher of America, King Hariam Lodge, Ahrine Lodge, MAE and 32nd degree mason.
Mr. Smith was preceded in death by his son, five brothers and two sisters.
He is survived by three children, Christopher Gholar, Nicholas Self and Lisa Hall; two step-children, Sonja Aultman and Keane Townsend, whom he raised; two brothers, Mathlee Smith and Clester (Ruthie Nell) Smith; two sisters, Darlene Jefferson of Hermitage, Pennsylvania and Joyce (Charles) Mariner of Oakvale; 16 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; aunt, Julie Moore, and many other relatives and friends.