James E. ‘Headhunter‘ Smith, Jr.

James E. "Headhunter" Smith, Jr.

James E. “Headhunter” Smith, Jr., 71, of Kelly Creek Lane, Appomattox died Sunday, January 26, 2020, at his residence. He was the husband of Peggy Robinson Smith. They were high school sweethearts who just celebrated their 50th anniversary in December. 

Born in Lynchburg, Va., on November 16, 1948, he was the son of the late Mable Doss and James E. Smith, Sr. He was a member of Liberty Baptist Church and a founding member of the Appomattox Moose Lodge. He retired from Moore’s Electric and Mechanical.  

James was known by all as “Headhunter,” a football nickname given to him by the legendary Coach Gordon Bragg. His team played four winning varsity seasons together, rounding out their careers with only one loss in their final two seasons, going down in Appomattox football history. Joining the Army in 1968, James served two tours in Vietnam at the height of the conflict, where he earned a Purple Heart. He was the consummate patriot, proud to fly the American Flag, and grew prouder through the years of what he endured for the sake of his country. 

James was a perfectionist in everything he did, receiving accolades for his outstanding work ethic. His perfectionism carried over into his personal life, especially in his retirement years, when he would painstakingly overhaul his beloved Thunderbird, then his tractors, then his shop, and start all over again to keep everything perfect. He taught himself to preserve and can the plethora of vegetables he grew in his huge garden plots, and he exercised his perfectionism in managing a pristine four acres of lawn. He loved his weekly card games with lifelong friends, having returned from his last game just before he passed away during the night. Peggy and Chris knew they could always depend on James, particularly after Drew’s accident as he held the family together behind the scenes. 

In addition to his wife he is survived by a son, Christopher W. Smith of Appomattox; grandchildren, Trey Smith and LeAnn Smith; sister-in-law, Johanna Smith; aunts and uncles, Dick Smith, Wiley (Lois) Smith, Reva Crews, Joe (Ruth) Doss, Peggy Watson, and Louise Doss; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins; and many lifelong friends. 

He was preceded in death by a son, James Andrew “Drew” Smith and a brother, Robert Smith.

A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m., Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at Robinson Funeral Home officiated by Kent Hancock. Burial will follow in Liberty Cemetery with military rites accorded by American Legion Post #104 and V. F. W. #9855 combined honor guard.

The family received friends at the funeral home on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and other times at his residence.

“He taught me to be organized” said Chris. Somewhere in his corner of Heaven, Headhunter is getting his eternity organized, complete with green grass, big tomatoes, and a tractor or two to overhaul. 

Those wishing to send memorials please consider the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 or at https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate.

Robinson Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the family. An online condolence may be sent by visiting www.robinsonfuneral.com.