1934 – June 16, 2004
Rev. Wayne Smith dies on
Friendship Force; Big Canoe Chapel Associate Chaplain
Terrell, Smoke Signals, Big Canoe, Georgia
died on June 16, 2004 at his home in Big Canoe following a lengthy
battle against the debilitating, chronic, autoimmune neuromuscular
disease called myasthenia gravis. This disease often affects muscles
that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing,
talking and swallowing. Wayne also suffered from macular degeneration,
which had significantly diminished his sight.
was born in South Charleston, West Virginia on July 19, 1934 to Myree
Cobb and Carl Smith. Due to family circumstances, he was raised by his
grandmother, Myrtle McGill Smith, whom he called “Mee-Maw,” and her
second husband, an Italian immigrant named Vincent Tiago “Jimmy”
Muscatello, who Wayne called “Pee Paw.” He dearly loved his
grandparents and called them the “mother and father of my heart.
During his high school days he met and fell in love with Carolyn
the pretty girl who would become his wife when he was 19 and she was
only 18. Carolyn attended the Presbyterian Church and she invited Wayne
to her church. It was there that he experienced a religious conversion
and felt the call to be a minister.
attended Morris Harvey College and graduated from West Virginia State
College and Union Theological Seminary of Virginia.
1963-1970 he served as a Presbyterian Missionary in Brazil. He lived
there with his wife and their four small children. In 1971 he and his
family returned to tie United States from Brazilia, the capital of
attended West Virginia State because it was near his workplace. He was
the only white student. The school soon found that their new student was
colorblind - he didn't pay attention to externals like skin color. In
1993, the school voted Wayne as the "outstanding .black alumnae of
the year." Wayne was Caucasian, but because he was colorblind, the
leaders of the college showed that they could be colorblind also! Wayne
received the award for his mission of global understanding and
1971-1975 he served as Minister to the Community of the North Avenue
Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. In 1977 he assumed the responsibility as
the Senior Minster of the Decatur Presbyterian Church. In 1979 he became
President of the Friendship Force, which he founded in 1977 with
participation from then-President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalyn Carter.
The very first Friendship Force exchange was between Atlanta and
Newcastle Upon Tyne on July 4, 1977.
Wayne Smith: "A Dreamer's Dreamer"
didn't invent friendship but it could be argued that he perfected the
art of making friends and of being a friend to others. After serving as
a missionary to Brazil, Wayne's fertile mind came up with the idea of
the Friendship Force in 1977.
Friendship Force is an organization that promotes friendship and
understanding between people in more than 50 countries around the world.
The motto of the organization is "A World of Friends is a World of
The idea is
simple. Through home stays, people get to know each other around kitchen
tables. instead of conference tables. They live together with their
hosts for a week or two, and during this time they are part of the same
family. Does it work? It does indeed. In fact, it works so well that
it's called “Friendship Force magic.”
about 4000 people will make friends through home stays and the best
thing about these friendships is that they typically last and grow
strong across the years. This "magic" thrilled Wayne, Smith
because he started the Friendship Force to provide ordinary citizens
of the world\ the opportunity to establish personal friendships in other
countries to see for themselves how wonderful and life‑enriching
the experience could be.
retired from the Friendship Force in 2000, he continued to promote
understanding through friendship. In October 2002, Smith organized
World Pilgrims and led a delegation of Christian, Jewish and Muslim
clergy on an interfaith pilgrimage to Turkey. The members of this
delegation made lasting friendships on their journey and they, still
work on interfaith understanding in Atlanta.
2003, Wayne Smith led, a delegation for the Friendship Force to the
Middle East with home stays that he arranged with Iraqi families in
Jordan. Few people could have planned and executed this journey at such
a difficult time in history.
Daughter Susan Smith is President of The Friendship Force
Smith's daughter, Susan Smith, agreed to take over the leadership of the
Friendship Force in January 2003, following the resignation of Chip
Carter in November 2002. The organization was in a state of disarray
when Susan took the job but she did a remarkable job of guiding the
Friendship Force to a successful year despite the war with Iraq and the
scare from SARS.
was immensely proud of his daughter's accomplishments for the Friendship
Force. (Susan resigned from the Friendship Force as of April 1, 2004 and
moved back to California in preparation for her upcoming marriage to Bob
Family graveside service
June 19; memorial service June 21
graveside service was held on Saturday, June 19 at Big Canoe Chapel
Cemetery. A memorial service was held on Monday, June 21 at Big Canoe
Chapel with a reception following in the Broyles Community Center. The
Chapel was filled to overflow capacity and about 45 choir members were
seated on the altar platform.
at the service was Dr. Jim McCormick and Dr. Jimmy R. Allen. Other
speakers included Susan, Andy and Steve Smith, children of Wayne and
Carolyn; Bill Hagan, former member of the Board of Trustees of
Friendship Force International; George Brown, president of Friendship
Force International; Thomas G. Cousins, the original developer of Big
Canoe and an old friend of the family; Levy Tavares, former member of
the Congress of Brazil and a dear family friend of 40 years; Sam
Rothermel, Chapel Youth leader; Imam Plemon El Amin, a participant in
World Pilgrims and former President Jimmy Carter.
Boggs, well-known soloist and choral director, sang "His Eye Is on
the Sparrow." Under the direction of Lamar Helms, the Big Canoe
Chapel Choir sang "Creation Will Be at Peace."
El Amin of Atlanta Masjid of Xl-Islam said, "Wayne Smith dreamed no
small dreams and thought no small thoughts." He added, "We
must keep Wayne's dream alive so that his work will survive and inspire
others for years to come."
Brown, president of Friendship Force International, said, "Wayne
believed passionately in the basic goodness of men and women, regardless
of their nationality, background, religion or any of the other
differences that so often separate us. Wayne Smith believed that if
people could just spend a few days in each other's homes they could
become friends - and that if enough people did this, the world would
gradually become more peaceful. The single-minded energy with which
Wayne pursued his dreams set him apart."
the Friendship Force was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Ed
Jenkins, Georgia's Ninth District Congressman, made the nomination. In
presenting the nomination, Jenkins said, "There is evidence and
testimony that the Friendship Force, while devoid of actual political
activity, has had an influence on the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the
advance of democracy in the former Soviet Union and the promotion of
peaceful solutions to problems in the Middle East and China."
told of the time when Wayne was Minister to the Community at Atlanta's
North Avenue Presbyterian Church and decided to seek out those who
needed to find God the most. One of those Wayne called on was Mike
Thevis, known as the Porn King of Atlanta. Tom said he asked Wayne how
he could call on such a man as Thevis. Wayne calmly replied, "He's
a child of God, Tom."
Tavares asked his daughter Angelica to read his prepared remarks.
"I have a big lump in my throat," he said. Levy said that he
and Wayne were like brothers and that they were also best friends. He
spoke of the Friendship Force program in Brazil and noted that it had
been very successful.
of Dayton, Ohio, spoke warmly of Wayne Smith, his friend of 24 years. He
talked of the special tie that Wayne felt for Big Canoe and for the
Chapel. Bill then read a poem he composed called "A Special Man in
A Special Place.”
President Jimmy Carter said that he and Wayne Smith met while Carter was
governor of Georgia. First Wayne took Governor Carter and Mrs. Rosalyn
Carter on a trip to Brazil to meet members of the Brazilian Congress.
Fluent in Portuguese, Wayne acted as their guide and interpreter. They
had a very successful visit.
said President Carter, "This was not the last time we would travel
with Wayne. Following our successful visit to Brazil, Wayne talked about
his idea of people-to-people diplomacy. In 1973, Wayne arranged for a
chartered jet to take 200 Georgians to Brazil to live in private homes
and 200 Brazilians to come to Georgia to live in our homes. Rosalyn
traveled to Pernambuco, Brazil on this exchange and I hosted Brazilians
back at the Governor's Mansion. Little did we know what Wayne Smith had
in store for us after that exchange."
Allen described Wayne Smith as one who "stood beside the
door." He said Wayne knew there were people searching for God, but
they, did not know how to find Him. Wayne stood by the door to God and
helped others find that door.
is survived by his wife, Carolyn; sons, David, Stephen and Andrew; and
daughter, Susan; brother and sister-in-law, James and Grace Smith;
sister, Barbara Peggs; daughter-in-laws, Manuela Smith and Dirce Smith,
and soon to be son-in-law, Bob Bennitt, grandchildren, James, Jessica,
Nicole, Lukas and Anna Smith.
contributions may be made to the Big Canoe Chapel Benevolence Fund or to
Boldrini Children's Hospital, c/o Big Canoe Chapel, 10455 Big Canoe, Big
Canoe, Georgia 30143.
in Smoke Signals, News from Big Canoe (Georgia)
Vol XVI No