OBITUARY: Richard Cleven Smithson


Richard Cleven Smithson, age 88, of Nashville, TN passed from this life on May 14, 2024.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Nina Faye Grooms Smithson; grandson, Matthew Dewayne Smithson; parents, Clyde C. and Lena M. Smithson; brother, Alvin J. Smithson and sister, Bessie (Guy) Taylor.

He is survived by his children, Rick Smithson, Sonia (Charles Griffin) Smithson-Griffin, Randy (Audrea) Smithson, and Tracy Smithson; grandchildren, Elayna Smithson, Hannah Smithson, Alyssa Smithson, Barrett Harris and David Smithson; sisters, Florine Magness and Becky (Calvin) Wheeler, and many wonderful nieces and nephews.

Richard was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He was witty and loved children. He lived life to the fullest and worked hard to provide for his family.

As a young man, he served in the Army during the Korean War. He returned to his hometown of Nashville and enlisted in the Tennessee Air National Guard, where he served until his mandatory retirement at age 60. He was called upon and served active duty in every major U.S. conflict up to and including Desert Shield. He traveled the world with the military as a Flight Engineer and achieved the rank of Master Sergeant. He truly enjoyed flying the C130 cargo plane and working with his beloved fellow crew members.

He was a Scottish Rite 32nd degree Mason and was a brother at McWhirtersville Lodge in Donelson. He was a member of Al Menah Temple of the Shrine in Nashville, where he served as a Greeter and in The Royal Order of the Jesters. He held a special place in his heart for the children at The Shrine Hospital and called them by name when he saw them on television now as adults.

He enjoyed everything life has to offer, but mostly the people he met. He was an accomplished roller skater and traveled away to skating competitions in his teens. He loved automobiles and worked on cars for many of Nashville’s finest. Golf was part of his life since his youth. He served as a caddy and later participated as an accomplished golfer in several ProAm tournaments.

He was a boater, water-skier, and fisherman; actually, landing the third-place halibut in an Alaska tournament on one occasion. He hunted during his younger years to put food on the table. He loved music and had many friends in the industry. He wrestled and knew many of Nashville’s wrestlers personally. The stories still keep rolling in about adventures and wonderful people he met all over the world, but mostly in his beloved hometown of Nashville.

He worked as a truck driver in Nashville and the surrounding area, later serving as a member and business agent for Teamsters Local 480. He had a strong work ethic blended with a firm commitment to stand for what was fair, right, and good. He argued fervently for workers who were wrongfully discharged and admonished those who wronged their employer. He was respected by his coworkers, legal representatives on both sides, and employers.

He was an Elder and Trustee of First Bible Presbyterian Church on Howard Avenue in Nashville. He loved our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ and served our God in many capacities throughout his life. He truly found joy in helping others.

He will be greatly missed, and we are heartbroken by the sudden loss of Richard, “Dad”, and “Granddaddy”. We rejoice in knowing he is in heaven with our Lord and Master, joining many late family members and friends. Sing and make a joyful noise like never before!

Funeral services will be conducted by Jonathan McCaskell on Monday, May 20, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. at Woodbine Funeral Home, Hickory Chapel, 5852 Nolensville Road. Interment with Military Honors at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Family and friends will serve as Pallbearers.

Visitation will be on Sunday, May 19, 2024, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and on Monday, May 20, 2024, from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Woodbine Funeral Home, Hickory Chapel, 615-331-1952.

Masonic Memorial service will be conducted on Sunday, May 19, 2024, at 4:00 p.m. by McWhirtersville-Claiborne Lodge # 293 F&AM.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Shriners Hospitals for Children


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