Willie Dee Smith, age 88, of Milton, Florida, passed away, September 18, 2020.
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Willie was born to Rube and Ollie Smith, February 22, 1932, in Santa Rosa County. He graduated from Allentown High School, class of 1951. After graduation, he joined the US Army for three years. Upon returning, he went to work civil service at NAS Whiting Field. In the 50’s, Willie began racing with his brother, Rex, and that led to a lifelong love of drag racing. In 1972, he left his job at Whiting, to open Smith’s Hi-Performance Center.
Often referred to as “Mr. 427”, because of his vast knowledge and love of Ford racing, Willie inspired and mentored many young racers, also, helping and supporting local racers by his own “credit system”. He spent many weekends racing with his son, Lyle, and, eventually, also, with his grandson, Casey.
Inspired by Chet Atkins, he enjoyed playing guitar and led music at Hollandtown Holiness Church, where he was a lifelong member.
Willie was preceded in death by his parents, Rube and Ollie Smith; brother, Rex Wayne Smith, Sr.; and mother-in-law, Eva Casey (Nanny).
Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Alice Marie Smith; children: Lyle Smith (Cynthia), Deanna McDavid (Rob), Kay Downs, Darrell Smith, and Melinda McCreless (Greg); grandchildren: Casey (Amanda), Shelley (Jeremy), Amy, April, Jacob (Christina), Kyle (Amanda), Brittany, Tyson (Whitney), Corey, Conner, & Olivia; great-grandchildren: Bo, Rhett, Marie, Jackson, Ellie, Addison, Barrett, Lincoln, and Cooper; sister, Louise Gandy; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Willie Dee never met a stranger and always had a kind word to say.
A private graveside service will be held at Serenity Gardens. Pallbearers will be his grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hollandtown Holiness Church, c/o Dorothy Prescott, 3995 Highway 4, Jay, FL, 32565.