WILLIAM REEVES SMITH, age 94, of Knoxville, Tennessee passed away on May 10, 2016. Born in Atoka, Tennessee, he was the son of a farmer and a homemaker and the grandson of the town mayor. With a gift for all things mechanical, he took his $15 life savings for tools and hitchhiked to Memphis on weekends during his high school years to learn the watchmaking trade.
He later enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II and ultimately received the Legion of Merit conferred by General Douglas MacArthur for building more than 40 pieces of equipment that put instrument-grounded fighter planes back into battle in the Pacific. He graduated from The University of Tennessee and worked at the three Oak Ridge plants for 35 years, including serving as Chief Engineer of the cyclotron project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
A lifelong learner, he pursued many interests: flying, citizens band radio ("Sliderule"), ham radio (W4PAL), magic, medical hypnosis, motorcycle rebuilding, pool, photography, telegraph key restoration, and songwriting. He also wrote six books of poetry and one novella and loved dancing, traveling and listening to Elvis Presley.
In retirement, he gained master watchmaker and clockmaker certifications. The brass skeleton clocks he built won five gold medals in competition, and the Joe Martin Foundation for Excellence in Craftsmanship named him Craftsman of the Year in 2000. A Fellow in both the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) and the British Horological Institute, he was awarded the NAWCC's coveted Dana J. Blackwell Clock Award for lifetime achievement. Like the watchmakers who first taught him, he sought to share his knowledge with others, writing 13 "how to" books and 6 DVDs about clock making. Today, the clocks he designed are built by clockmakers around the world.
He is preceded in death by his parents, J. C. Smith and Baudine Smith. He will be deeply missed by his beloved wife of 28 years, Judy Keller Smith; his daughter, Donna Griffith (Craig), of Knoxville; and Judy's children, Christine Myers (Craig) of Knoxville and James White (Kris) of Minneapolis. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Megan and Hite Myers, Kaley B. White, and Brian Griffith and Shawn Griffith (Leah); one great grandchild, Sawyer Griffith; and many dear friends.
Family and friends will meet 12:45 p.m. Friday at Grandview Memorial Gardens in Maryville for the graveside service and interment at 1:00 p.m. with Rev. Dwyn Mounger officiating. Military honors will be performed by East Tennessee Veterans Honor Guard. A celebration of life service will be held later. Mr. Smith's guest book is available at www.stevensmortuaryinc.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a favorite charity or to New Hope Presbyterian Church (Missions Fund), 1705 Merchants Road, Knoxville, TN 37912
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