James Arthur Smith, 100, of Independence, Va., passed away at Commonwealth Senior Living, Hillsville, Va., April 20, 2022, with family by his side. He was born Sept. 20, 1921, in Roaring Gap, N.C., to the late Oscar Orton Smith Sr. and Minnie “Ruth” Reeves Smith.

The family moved to Independence in 1926, traveling by horse and wagon. James was reared on the family farm with his six siblings, Charles P. Smith, Alta S. Hoffman, Dr. O.O. Smith Jr., Mary S. Orr (twin sister), Anna S. Price and John R. Smith, who preceded him in death.

Survivors include 13 nieces and nephews and families, several great-nieces and great-nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews. To his family and friends, he was affectionately known as “Uncle James,” a title he cherished.

James graduated from Independence High School; he then attended Emory & Henry College. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1941. His life-long teaching career soon began in a one room schoolhouse in Troutdale, Va.

He walked to school daily with his two young nephews, Charles and Bobby Hoffman, and on snow days they rode horseback. He later taught various grades and subjects in Elk Creek, Independence, Baywood (where he was also principal), Lexington and Martinsville, Va. James completed his teaching career in North Carolina, retiring from Statesville Middle School. He moved back to the family farm on Peach Bottom Creek in Independence.

James cared for family and friends with selfless love, compassion and generosity. He was especially giving of his time. He had a unique way of making children feel safe, nurtured and loved. He enjoyed meeting new people and always welcomed strangers in his home. He had a deep-rooted love of learning and was an avid reader. He enjoyed history, current events, politics, psychology, religion and culture. When not teaching, his hobbies included horticulture and collecting antiques. His giving heart led him to support several charities and organizations.

A celebration of life service was held at First Baptist Church in Independence, Va., on April 30, 2022. The Rev. Danny Nettleton was the presiding officiant. Visitation began prior to the 11 a.m. service. Friends and family gathered immediately afterwards in the Fellowship Hall. A meal was provided by Bridle Creek UMC.

A committal service and inurnment was held at Antioch United Methodist Church Cemetery in Roaring Gap, N.C., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, with the Rev. Danny Nettleton officiating.

The family wishes to thank the loving and compassionate staff at Commonwealth Senior Living for their dedicated care of Uncle James. In lieu of flowers, family requests memorial contributions be made to Grayson County Rescue Squad, Antioch United Methodist Church in Roaring Gap, North Carolina, c/o Cemetery Fund, or another local charity.

Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home served the Smith family.