The Pure Holiness Church of God, Inc., celebrates the life and legacy of 1st Assistant Presiding Bishop, Bishop Willie Nelson Smith, who transitioned from this life on Friday, April 7, 2023. Known affectionately as “Roscoe” and “Honey”, Bishop was born to the late Willie Hope Dye and Beuna Smith Roberts, on Monday, December 17, 1945, as the eldest of a total of eight siblings.
A graduate of Robert L. Cousins High School, class of 1963, Bishop spent his youth in the church, playing baseball, fishing, and learning to ride horses. With his cool persona, charming personality, wonderful sense of humor, and genuine good spirit, he generated meaningful and impactful relationships that lasted a lifetime.
Bishop grew up in The Pure Holiness Church of God, Inc., under the leadership of his grandfather, the late Elder Rex Smith, at what is now Greater Smith Temple Pure Holiness Church, in Hiram, GA. He later dedicated his life to Christ, while attending Church of the First Born, in Douglasville, GA. He soon returned to serve under his grandfather as a member of the music department, playing the bass guitar. He also served as a member of the renowned choir, The Pure Holiness Church of God Mass Choir. While a member, the choir recorded the album “Look Where God Has Brought Us”, in 1982. In later years, he served as choir president.
Bishop Smith grew up knowing his wife, Thelma, most of his life. It wasn’t until they became adults that a courtship began. This courtship blossomed to love, culminating into 43 years of marriage, family, happiness, partnership, blessings, and a bond that remained strong.
Bishop found many productive ways to take advantage of the hobbies that he loved. He coached little league baseball for many years, which kept him around his love for baseball. He remained an avid fisherman, which allowed him to bond with family and friends over countless fishing trips. Equestrianism also continued to play a major role in his life, allowing him to enjoy the beauty that life has to offer. He was also a bit of a pool shark, honing his skills as a youth, while later perfecting his craft on his own billiard’s table at his home. Bishop was indeed a family man, attending every family reunion he could. It was because of his love for life that he created fond memories not only for himself, but for his family, friends, and everyone that loved him.
Bishop also experienced success in his professional career while employed at Geiger. His skill set, intelligence, and personality again proved to be a blessing as he rose through the ranks to management. His God-given ability to lead, generated numerous awards and accolades. He retired in 2004.
It wasn’t until Bishop accepted his call to Minister that his life excelled beyond his expectations. He would later be ordained an Elder. His first pastoral assignment was at Greater Pineview Pure Holiness Church, in Senoia, GA. This church was near and dear to his heart. He pastored there for 15 years. After his assignment there was complete, he was appointed to become Senior Pastor of Joyful Tabernacle of Praise Pure Holiness Church, in Concord, GA. He adored and loved the members that he served. Throughout his time in the pastoral position, he ascended through many roles within the church, serving in a number of titles including Superintendent of the Sunday School, General Secretary, Chairman of the National Finance Committee, The Board of Elders, District Elder and The Executive Board. The title he cherished the most was “Child of God”.
Bishop Smith was consecrated as Bishop in The Pure Holiness Church of God, Inc., on February 16, 2019, under the leadership of Presiding Prelate, Bishop James P. Waters. During his tenure as 1stAssistant, he oversaw the Southern District. He was also the advisor to the National Missionary department.
Bishop was preceded in death by his parents, Willie Hope Dye and Buena Smith Roberts; and his siblings George Roberts, Charles Roberts, Mary Dye, Robert Dye and Willie Dye.
Bishop Willie Nelson Smith, leaves to forever cherish his memory, a loving and devoted wife, Thelma Smith; four children, Antonius (Elizabeth) Smith, Tammy Martin, Antonio Foster and Wynnelson Smith; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; one sister, Carolyn (Newton) Lee; one brother, Adrian (Kimberly) Dye; four aunts, Narvis Penson, Lillian Robinson, Pauline Barker, and Willie Nell Smith; one uncle, Claude (Brenda) Dye; four sisters-in-law; Diane Nelson-Roberts, Mary (Llewellyn) Barrow, Velma (Reginald) Jackson, Willena (James) Cameron; two brothers-in-law, Howard (Olivia) Ringer Sr., Windon(Carol) Ringer; God-Daughter, Myla Freeman, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends; as well as Joyful Tabernacle of Praise Pure Holiness Church and The Pure Holiness Church of God, Inc.
Homegoing celebration services will be held Saturday, April 15, 2023 at 11a.m. at Golden Memorial United Methodist Church, 6903 James D Simpson Ave, Douglasville GA 30135. Bishop Smith will lie in-state from 9a.m. until 11a.m. the morning of the service. Services entrusted to Hardwick & Sons Funeral Home, 2521 Duncan Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37404 – (423) 267-1244.