A much-loved father, grandfather, son, and brother, Joe L. Smith, 81, entered eternal peace on Friday, January 11, 2019, at St. John Hospital in Detroit, MI with his family present after a lengthy battle with declining health.
Joe was born on August 29, 1937 in Brenham, Texas, a son of the late Charlie and Minnie Lee Smith. In 1956, he graduated from Central High School in Galveston, Texas where he excelled on the field as a member of the football team. As a young man, Joe also loved to play baseball and was skilled with a yo-yo! After high school, Joe began to pursue his love of music and learned to play the guitar, keyboard, and drums. He was a self-taught musician and learned to read and write music fluently; his determination and perseverance
afforded him the opportunity to tour with several well-known bands during that time.
An amazing musician and songwriter, Joe toured with the internationally known group The Four Tops, as a guitarist and band director for 13 years. He also co-wrote numerous songs that were featured on several of The Four Tops’ earlier albums. His travels took him all over the world to Bermuda, London, and Australia just to name a few! While working he lived in Galveston, Texas, New York, and eventually settled in Detroit, Michigan.
Although, Joe made a living as a musician, his love for music was further show-cased during his personal time where he would spend many hours writing, composing, singing lead and background vocals for songs and arrangements that he created; he liked to call it “Joe Smith Music”!
After retiring in the early to mid-80s, Joe continued to work on his personal music. It was during this time that he embarked on a new endeavor that he called, “Custom Wall Creations” hand-cut personalized mirrors. Joe’s creativity led to a small brick and mortar business. Eventually. his passion and creativity would be shared from the East to the West side of Detroit on a street corner near you! He was known as the “Mirror Man” and “Galveston Joe”! For a short time, his mirrors were featured in local stores in Detroit such as K-Mart and Art Van. As a craftsman, Joe created wall mirrors, he built dog houses, designed a backgammon table, and either improved or built furniture from scratch just to name a few of his creations.
Later in life, Joe accepted Christ as his personal savior. Over the years as his health declined, no longer able to hit his favorite spots throughout the city, he didn’t let any grass grow under his feet. Instead, he embarked on another journey to satisfy his creative needs and taught himself to sew. He started making bags to carry and store his large bags; he would eventually make cross-body bags and cell phone purses in any shape, size, or color that you could imagine! He loved to make bags, he called it his “therapy” and let’s just say he
engaged in therapy resulting in over 2000 bags!
Joe was a “fix it man”, he had a knack for putting the “Joe Smith” touch on anything and making it functional through-out his home. Joe loved to watch tennis, although he never played, again he taught himself the rules and enjoyed the sport. In his spare time, he absolutely loved westerns, football, buffets, and most of all
eating tootsie rolls!
Joe was a loving man, he touched the lives of many people with his smile and kindness everywhere that he went. He kept a positive spirit, a sense of humor, and smiled and chuckled until the very end; his gentle spirit will truly be missed and he will forever remain in our hearts.
He was predeceased by his parents; his beloved wife Carol Jean Stevens-Smith in 1980; his daughter Wanda Kay Mitchell; siblings Floyd Smith, Will Charles Smith, Freddie Smith, and James Elroy Smith.
He leaves his loving memories to be cherished by his brother Charles Ray Smith; loving children; Wilbert, Brenda (Roger), Clive, Keisha (Rodriguez), Angelica (Travise), and Giselle. His adoring grandchildren; Shenita, Wilbert Jr., Brittany (Adam), Roger Jr., Channing (Arlen), Kameron, A’Shionna, Rodriquez, and Austin; and great-grandchildren; Gavin, Major, and Blair along with a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.