Edward Earl Smith Jr. was, in a word “theatrical,” says Dr. Sarah Holleman Brown, his sister-in-law. Smith had a particularly warm spot in his heart for little theatre for almost 50 years.
Occupation: Banker, actor, director.
People will remember him: As a gifted and passionate, actor and director, as well as a founder of the Flowertown Players.
Affiliation: Summerville Presbyterian Church.
Survivors include: His sons, Edward Earl “Trey” Smith III of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Matthew Todd Smith (Holly) of James Island; two grandsons, August T. Smith and Mylo W. Smith, both of James Island; and one brother, Johnny Smith (Joanne) of Summerville.
Though Smith was a banker by profession, he was a natural born actor and a passionate director, too, Brown says. Theatre is something he got involved in right out college.
Early on, he had the opportunity to perform at Dock Street Theatre once or twice and got more experience in the theatre while living in Spartanburg and his home town of Summerville.
Smith, who was a banker in Summerville, Holly Hill, Ridgeville and Spartanburg for more than 30 years, was born Dec. 19, 1945. He died Nov. 10, with a big part of his heart still belonging to the performing arts.
In the late 1970s, there was no little theatre in Summerville, so he, Peach Boswell and Dick and Rhea Fitzgerald got together and founded the Flowertown Players, with him as its first president.
Smith worked hard, never one to take on a role without studying the character thoroughly, Brown says. He would always adopt the accent, body language and whatever else made the characters he portrayed believable.
Some of his more memorable roles include Fagan in the play “Oliver,” she says. It was a special experience for him and son Trey, who was 8 and played one of the orphan boys in the production. He will also be remembered for his performances in productions of “A Street Car Named Desire,” “Once Upon A Mattress” and many other plays.
Smith was drawn mostly to comedy, but loved drama as well, Brown says. Whether he was acting or directing, he usually was involved in the kinds of plays that everyone knows and loves.
But, perhaps his favorite performances were as Santa Claus, anywhere.
“I had made him a Santa Claus suit and he played Santa everywhere he lived,” Brown. The two adopted a family each Christmas, mostly during the mid-’90s, and he would put on the suit and deliver gifts.
“He embodied the part,” Brown says. “He was so believable.”
He would tell kids: “I can see into your heart. I know there are bad things you did. But, you have been doing better.”
Over the past five years, he was less active, but his creative juices kept flowing.
“He wrote this novel, hoping it would become a play, but it never did,” Brown says. “It’s called ‘Ashes in the Wind.’ It’s a love story that takes place on Folly Beach.”
Brown says she’ll miss the way he used to approach her, singing her name.
“He didn’t just to walk up to you and say ‘Hi.’ ”
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.