When Marlin Smith, who died on Wednesday at age 84, was around, with his 6 feet 5 inch frame, big smile and booming, bass voice he was sure to get attention.
"There was really no one like him," longtime business partner J.W. Lambright said." He never really sought any recognition for things, but he was willing to give of himself, his time and his money for things that he felt strongly about."
In 1960, when Smith was just 25 years-old, Tom Park made him a partner in his firm. Two years later, he joined the army reserves. Then, in 1962, he got his CPA certificate.
"He told me that when he first came to town 1960, he would walk around the courthouse square, back when a lot of people were still there and wave to people inside the stores."
Lambright said Smith Lambright and Associates has always had a family atmosphere.
"He was a lot of the reason for that," Lambright said. "We have one guy who's been here well over 50 years."
Smith once said about his business philosophy, "Our game is integrity, integrity. Establish that, and you’ll be fine."
Smith was one of he longest tenured members of Athens Kiwanis and had served as president and treasurer of the club during his almost 60 years, For decades, he was one of the cooks on Pancake Day, starting when the event was held at Henderson County Junior College women's gym.
For years, he led songs at the beginning of the club's noon-time meetings at Athens Country Club.
Smith was also treasurer for the Henderson County United Way for more than 50 years.
Smith's grew up in the Tyler area in a family of five boys.
"His father was a carpenter and they all helped build homes and did roofing," Lambright said. "It wasn't easy, but they made the most of it. They were very grounded in their faith. That stayed with Marlin all of his life.
Smith was a member of First Baptist Church of Athens. He often used his musical talents at the church and loved to play the pipe organ.
"I think he was self-taught."
In recent years, Smith said goodbye to his wife, Pat in 2014 and son, Sterling in 2015.
"They both died within about the past five years," Lambright said. "He was anxious to see Pat again. He loved his family."
Services are scheduled for 11:00 A.M. Saturday at First Baptist Church Athens with Rev. Kyle Henderson officiating. A private family burial will be held at Oaklawn Memorial Park with Rev. Kern Railsback officiating under the direction of Autry’s Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home.
Visitation for family and friends will be held Friday evening from 5-7 P.M. at the funeral home.