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BETHEL ALLEN SMITH SR., 72, of Ripley, passed away March 4, 2022, at Hubbard Hospice House in Charleston, following a long illness.

He was born September 13, 1949, in Madison, Boone County, WV, son of the late Frank and Alice Hicks Smith.

Bethel spent a lifetime really enjoying the time he had with those around him. He was quick to have a laugh or give one — always ready with a joke or a tall tale that seemed to get bigger and wilder each time he told it. He got a kick out of getting a big reaction out of his grandkids or his many nieces and nephews that he loved like his own children.

Much of his earlier years involved being outside and staying busy. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and stomping through the mountains. He always had a strong draw to nature and even spent time as a forest ranger. A walk through the woods with him left you with a broader knowledge of trees, plants, animals and the importance of the natural world and its history. He also enjoyed camping trips with extended family and was known to rig the camp to give the kids a spook after ghost stories around the campfire. Some of us will always sleep with one eye open.

Many didn’t know, but he was quite good at drawing, loved to sing (anything from church hymns, to Motown, to Elvis and the Doors on occasion), and was a magnet for every pet he ever met, whether it was his or someone else’s. He loved animals, and they seemed to love him back.

Bethel was tough as nails, an inventive handyman that could figure out or fix anything, even with few resources. He always found a way, no matter how tough things were. Conversely, he was a very tenderhearted man who made room for others in need. His home was always open to anyone who needed a place to stay or needed to hear some kind words. He had an unwavering belief that if you helped take care of others, God would take care of you.

Finally, Bethel was very much a people person and loved a good audience, of one or many, when given a chance to speak about his devoted faith in the Lord and the great hereafter. There is no doubt he is enjoying a grand reunion with family and friends who were waiting on the other side to welcome him home.

He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Kathy Armstrong Smith; children, Cassie (Eric) Myers, Bethel “Allen” (Marina Graber) Smith Jr. and Benjamin (Amber) Smith; brother, Larry Smith; sister, Judy Payne; grandchildren, Caiden and Mason Myers, Devon, Kierstin and Zacky Graber, Austin, Zabian and Zahyia Smith. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by brothers, Adrian, Herman and Youvon Smith, and sisters, Varlene Smith, Betty Barrickman, Audrey Billups, Olivine Harless and Kaye Kelly.

A special thanks to his aide, Phyllis Asbury, for her comfort and care, and to Chaplain Pete, who was a wonderful spiritual support during his final days and weeks.

In honoring his wishes, he will be cremated and a celebration of life service will be held at a later date.

Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley, is serving the family. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family by visiting www.waybrightfuneralhome.com.

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