OBITUARY: Paul Dean Smith


Paul Dean Smith, 89, passed away peacefully at his home in Columbia, TN following a brief illness.

Mr. Smith was born in Johnston City, a small coal mining town in Southern Illinois.

At the age of twelve, Paul’s father took him into a coal mine and reminded him that without an education and participation in sports mining would be his future.

He attended Southern Illinois University where he was a multi-sport athlete and member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Paul, an outstanding second baseman, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals AAA team. He had just been called up to the Cardinals major league team when his baseball career came to an end due to an unrelated sports injury. He later graduated from DePaul University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

College degree in hand, Mr. Smith entered Naval Aviation Schools Command at Pensacola, FL in 1957. He retired from the U. S. Navy in 1978 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander and having received various distinguished service awards related to his missions with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1 (the “World Watchers”).

Following over 20 years military service as a naval aviator, Lt. Commander Smith embarked on a successful career in the oil and gas industry as well as producing films and theater productions with renown director Robert Altman. Producer credits include Come Back to Five & Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean (film & Broadway), Mr. Mom, Popeye and Martin Scorsese’s King of Comedy and executive producer of The Grift.

A man of faith, Paul loved God, his Country, the Cardinals and playing golf at Graymere Country Club. He was an accomplished pianist who enjoyed entertaining family, friends, and strangers throughout his life. An officer, gentlemen, and consummate businessman whose word and handshake were his bond; the world was a better place because of the life of Paul Dean Smith.

Mr. Smith leaves behind the love of his life, Pamela McKee Smith, his devoted wife and partner of 38 years. He is also survived by daughter Sloane A. Smith (Louis Lembo) of Columbia; daughter Sherryl L. Smith of St. Louis, MO, son David Andrew Smith of KY; grandsons Tristen Dean Smith of Columbia, Paul Steven Smith, Jr of Austin, TX, Andrew Smith of Bangkok, Thailand, and Pete Smith of Providence, RI; granddaughters Kate Breen White (Joe) of Wayne, NJ and Heather Lacey Atwood of Saint Peters, MO and six great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Peter “Pete” D. Smith and Hazel Brashears Smith; sons Michael Scott Smith and Paul Steven Smith (Marianne Rausch); granddaughter Tabitha Atwood Drew and beloved canine Mr. Bill.

The family wishes to thank Dr. Ben Gardner and Compassus for their compassionate care. Also, a special thanks to Kevin Cooper, Deb Watkins and the many friends and family members for their love and care during Paul’s illness.

The memorial service for Paul Dean Smith will be conducted Friday, May 31, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia, Tennessee, with Guy Penrod officiating. Burial to follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. Military honors will be provided by The United States Navy. The family will receive friends beginning at 1:00 p.m.

Condolences may be extended online at

The family suggests memorials be made to Tunnel to Towers Foundation ( or Maury County Animal Shelter (


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