James Willard Smith, 84, died at home on February 8, 2021 after an extended illness. He was assisted in his final weeks by the caring staff of Hospice of the Western Reserve and, as always, by his wife of 59 years, Doris — an earthbound angel without whom his life would have ended years sooner.
Many people in Ashtabula knew Smith as "Jim the barber," as he owned and operated Jim's Barber and Style Shop on Center Street for 41 years. He heard and told many stories from his position behind the barber chair.
Smith was born in Buffalo Valley, Tennessee on February 23, 1936 and spent many years farming the old-time way, with mules and hand tools. He enlisted in the Army on his 18th birthday and served his country for six years. When he was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, he met Loren (Bud) Breedlove, Jr., who brought him to Ashtabula for a holiday visit. That is when he met Bud's sister, Doris, and the story of his life changed forever.
An avid gardener, fisherman, and hunter, Smith spent as much time as possible outdoors. He also had a deep love of country music and enjoyed reading and sharing stories about his favorite singers and songwriters.
Smith is survived by his wife, Doris; his son, Roger (Cindy); his daughter, Joan (Josh) Friedman; his sisters Wanda (Larry) Hunter and Gloria (Tommy) Agee; his grandchildren C.J. and Devlen Smith and Noah and Maren Friedman; and many nieces and nephews. His Breedlove in-laws were like his own family, and Harold (Butch) and Sheila Breedlove, Donna and Bill Marrison, Wes and Linda Breedlove, and Mary Jane and John Stimson were a constant source of support. He was preceded in death by his father, James; his mother, Lucille; his brother, Raybon (Tedie); his sisters Willodean, Brenda, and Becky; and his brother-in-law, Loren (Bud).
The family will hold a private funeral service, and Smith will be laid to rest at Greenlawn Memory Gardens in North Kingsville.
Those wishing to honor his memory may do so through donations to Hospice of the Western Reserve and East Side Presbyterian Church. His family also suggests listening to the song "Falling Leaves" by Grandpa Jones, one of his favorites.
Ducro Funeral Services, 4524 Elm Ave., Ashtabula is handling arrangements. Online obituary and condolences at www.ducro.com
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