Cover photo for James Forrest Smith's Obituary
James Forrest Smith Profile Photo
1936 James 2023

James Forrest Smith

November 20, 1936 — November 20, 2023

A Celebration of Life Service for James Forrest Smith, 87, of Vian, Oklahoma will be at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Vian, Oklahoma under the direction of Agent Mallory Martin Funeral Service, Inc. Burial of cremains will be held at a later date at Vian Garden of Memories Cemetery in Vian, Oklahoma.

On the day of November 20, 2023, James Forrest Smith passed away of natural causes. He was 87 years old. He was born near the area known as Dogtown, in the Arkansas River Bottoms, near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, in Muskogee County, on the 20th of November, 1936. He was the second of three sons of Hazel (Blackwell) and Emmer Olin Smith.

James attended grade school in Euniss, New Mexico, after the family moved from their flooded farm on the Arkansas River. The family moved back to Vian before James was in high school. He played on Vian’s first football team where he served as one of the captains during his senior year. During the homecoming game of his senior season, James had the honor of crowning the queen, Wanda Daily, his high school sweetheart and future wife. James was also a standout boxer in high school, reaching the finals of the golden gloves competition in Oklahoma City.

After graduation, James and his wife, Wanda, along with their first son, Butch, moved to Tulsa where James enrolled in the management program of Woolworth Department Store Company. At the young age of 23, James became manager of his first store in Leavenworth, Kansas. The young James was climbing the corporate ladder quite rapidly, but the corporate world wasn’t in his dreams. In 1963, he bought a farm northeast of town, where he and Wanda would begin their dream of raising their three children in Vian, Oklahoma.

James earned his teaching degree from Northeastern College in Tahlequah. He began his teaching career in Fort Smith and then in 1964, began teaching in Webbers Falls, where he taught History, Math and Science. James loved teaching at Webbers Falls and was very popular among his students, even though a large number of those students became acquainted with his paddle. He served as senior sponsor and escorted many students on memorable outings to Rockaway Beach for their senior trip. In 1974, he became the first football coach at Webbers Falls.

James was very active in raising his family. He taught them to fish, raise cattle, hogs, chickens and how to grow a garden. He was a coach and umpire in the boys little league and served as president of the Vian High School Booster Club.

In 1971, James went into business for himself, continuing a tradition handed down by his father, Olin. James opened the Wolverine Den, a very popular spot for kids and families where many went after school or after a ball game. He also purchased a restaurant across from Tenkiller State Park, “Big Daddy”, that is still there today.

James served on the Vian City Council for many years and as mayor for much of that time. He also devoted much of his time to the Vian Garden of Memories Cemetery.

During his later years, James’ favorite activity was attending all his grandchildren’s sports and activities. His second favorite thing was talking about his grandchildren to whoever would listen. And he would proudly talk as long as anyone would listen.

Survivors are his loving wife, Wanda (Daily) Smith; his three children, Daryl Gene “Butch” Smith and Sheila of Vian, OK, James Olin Smith and Shannon of Tulsa, OK and Diana (Smith) Montgomery of Gore, OK; his most loving little baby brother and confidant, E.O. Jr Smith and Janie; six grandchildren, Jennifer Smith Sutton and Chad, Daryl Gene Smith, Dr. Lacey and Dr. Colten Nevel, James Caleb Montgomery and Emma, Bradford Montgomery and Aubrey and Brooke Montgomery Smith and Layne; 10 great-grandchildren, Landon Sutton, Reid Sutton, Quinn Montgomery, Eli Montgomery, Tripp Smith, Blakely Smith, Molly Smith, Hazel Montgomery, Madison Montgomery and Luca Nevell; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and many, many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Hazel (Blackwell) Smith and Emmer Olin Smith; one brother, Richard Lee Smith; and one grandson, Damon Vincent Smith.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Keith Stewart and Roy Barnes.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Vian Garden of Memories Cemetery.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Forrest Smith, please visit our flower store.

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