On Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Chester Leroy Smith, loving husband, father, grandfather, “the great Pop Pop”
and brother peacefully transitioned from this life at age 85.
Chester Leroy Smith (affectionately known as Tommy) was born on July 28, 1935 in Northampton
County, North Carolina. He was the fifth of fourteen children born to the late John Augustus (“Gus”)
Smith, the late Elizabeth Webb Smith and the late Geneva Moody Smith.
Chester was educated in the Northampton school system and received his diploma from Gumberry High
School in May 1955. He joined the United States Army in 1958, completed basic training at Fort Jackson,
SC, was stationed in Fort Meade, MD and was honorably discharged in 1960. While residing in
Philadelphia, PA, Chester attended Philadelphia Community College in pursuit of a degree in accounting.
At an early age, he was baptized and joined Cool Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Gaston, NC. He
later joined the Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA, led by Reverend Leon H. Sullivan.
Chester was especially passionate about civil rights and focused on employment and education to
further the advancement for minorities. Projects he worked on included the Philadelphia Opportunities
Industrialization Center (“OIC”), an organization dedicated to “Helping People Help Themselves” and the
Progress Plaza, located in the Yorktown neighborhood of Philadelphia, the first African American owned
shopping center in the United States.
Chester worked in the grocery store industry at several regional supermarkets including as Manager of
several Philadelphia area “Our Market” grocery stores. He was also an active member of the Retail
Clerks Union. He later operated hot dog vending carts in North Philadelphia on Temple University’s
campus and at the Philadelphia High School of Engineering and Science where he frequently funded
scholarships for the students.
Chester was first and foremost a family man and dedicated to taking care of his family. Nothing made
him happier than to spend time with his brothers and sisters, children, grandchildren, nieces and
Chester was preceded in death by his first wife Altrude, his sisters and brothers Pearl Hudson, Courtney
Smith, Betty L. Smith Bynum, Edmond Smith, Jesse Smith and Arthur Smith.
He is survived by his wife Marie; his “Chaps” Cathy Banks, Karen Renee Lashley (Calvin), Chenora Burkett
(Brad) and Kimberly Smith; his grandchildren Milon, Shontáe, Amber, Raven, Britney, Justin, Myles and
Michelle; his brothers and sisters Attemerell Smith, Roberta Johnson (John), Lenward Smith (Coba),
Ronald Smith (Vanessa), Timothy Smith (Levella), Thurman Smith (Linda) and Verman Smith (Hazel); a
host of great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.
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