Leroy Smith, a retired special ed and physical education teacher and football coach and a longtime resident of Montclair, died on Dec. 4, 2021. He was 89.
Mr. Smith was born in 1932 in Henderson, North Carolina, to Chester Alvin Smith and Minnie Young, the youngest of four children.
He was educated in Vance County Public Schools in Henderson and graduated from Henderson Institute in 1953. He was a hall of famer for football, baseball and basketball during his time at Henderson Institute.
After high school, Mr. Smith served in the Army and then attended Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He received his master’s in education at Seton Hall University and worked for the Passaic Board of Education as a special ed and physical education teacher until his retirement in 2009.
He was proud to be the first African American head football coach in Passaic County.
Mr. Smith met his wife, Gladys Spivey, at a Shaw alumni meeting in Montclair in April 1960, and they were married that June.
He attended St. Paul Baptist Church for many years before attending Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church, where he was affectionately known as “The Candy Man” by many of the children of the church. They always looked forward to the end of the service, to receive hugs and candy from him. He was always giving, compassionate and full of life.
Mr. Smith was a member of the Masonic Hall Jephthah Lodge No. 56, where he served as the worshipful master (1987-1988).
He was also a member of the American Legion, where he served as commander adjutant for Post 251.
He was a strong advocate for Black excellence and looked forward to the annual Heritage parade in Montclair.
In his spare time, he enjoyed talking, meeting new people, dancing, reading, riding his motorcycle and eating good food (especially ice cream). He also enjoyed walking in Nishuane and Edgemont parks.
He was a devoted supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, especially his alma mater, Shaw University, to which he contributed annually.
Mr. Smith was frequently recognized for his contributions to his organizations and community and was proud of them. He enjoyed sharing his life experiences and wisdom with all who loved him. He was a proud son, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
He is survived by his daughter, Angela Marie Smith Teal (Rodriguez); grandson, Austin Jarod Teal; granddaughter, Aniya Marie Teal; great-grandson, Zayne Jionni Teal, and a host of in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Mr. Smith was preceded in death by his two brothers, Jasper and Eugene, and sister, Mary Lee.
Services will be held at Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 27 Monroe Place, Montclair, on Monday, Dec. 13, with a viewing at 10 a.m. and service at 11.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Shaw University, 118 East South St., Raleigh, NC 27601, or shawu.edu.
Arrangements were by Martin’s Home for Service.