COCHRAN, GEORGIA: Nearly two weeks ago, Bleckley County lost one of the good ones. Johnny Smith, owner and operator of Hap-E Enterprise, passed away at the age of 74.
For more than 43 years, Mr. Johnny had worked helping people in the community and beyond with their heating and air-conditioning needs.
A veteran of the US. Navy, he was a long time member of Limestone Baptist Church, and was a 1963 graduate of Cochran High School. Mr. Johnny was married to Danielle, and had three children, Vona, Gwendoline and Natalie, and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The son of Dorothy Lee Smith, of Cochran, and the late J.T. Smith, Mr. Johnny enjoyed wildlife and spending time with his grandchildren.
Always out to make a good deal and was strict in the operation of his business, Mr. Johnny appeared to be serious – though when his smile came or his infectious laughter appeared, it was genuine.
I remember seeing Mr. Johnny here and there in town. He was always nice to me, and very polite … He was one of those men that was very quiet, and had this demeanor about him that made you want to listen when he spoke.
For more than 25 years, Mr. Johnny, and my father, James Holland, were competitors in business. My dad is 12 years older than Mr. Johnny.
Though both men respected each other, and were cordial to each other, they were consistently in ‘bidding battles’ for jobs.
Their relationship was professional, but he was a familiar a figure in our family because of the mutual business interests.
Twenty years ago last August, my family experienced a tragedy that kept my dad’s attention away from work. My mother’s life was hanging in the balance, and medical bills were piling up.
Mr. Johnny very quietly came to my dad and offered to help in anyway he could.
My dad told the story as follows. “I was thinking that ‘Johnny’ was talking about jobs we had in progress,so I said very simply that I would most certainly choose ‘Johnny’ if help was needed with jobs we had going.”
That is when Mr. Johnny, in humility, and earnestly, said something to this effect to my dad, “No, I mean, if there is anything you need, just call me.”
My dad thought people ought to know this about Johnny Smith.
For me, Mr. Johnny’s offer spoke volumes.
And that’s a good story, don’t you think?
Rest in peace, Mr. Johnny.
(c)Smith Family Photo