Johnnie Wade “JJ” Smith
June 12, 1964 -
March 24, 2008
I was going to try to write something about "Super
Fan" JJ Smith. He was a member of the Gas-FX email group and I had
met him a few times at Thompson. Instead, I'm including the final
entry that Pam & Dennis Cox wrote on their JJ Blog which was posted after
JJ was injured in an accident on March 13, 2008. They said more
about JJ and how everyone feels about him than I ever could!
Thanks Pam & Dennis.
We just got in from JJ's funeral. (That doesn't
sound real yet). He would have been so proud of his family and friends for
making it through the day. There were about 300 people in attendance and
the service was a beautiful and personal representation of Johnnie Wade "JJ"
Smith. Family and friends spoke about their experience of having him
around-plenty of smiles and tears. The US Forest Service was represented
by about 50 personnel who also served as pall bearers and provided an
honor guard to the cemetery. The Valley Cruisers and others from JJ's
community of car lovers and drag racers were well-represented too. A
caravan of 25 street rods and cruisers escorted the hearse the 12 miles or
so to the hill-top cemetery. JJ's house can be seen from his grave
site-next to his Dad's. The church served a wonderful meal for all
Among the people attending were his co-workers in the George Washington
National Forest North River District office, his District Ranger, Forest
Supervisor, the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area Forest Ranger, Lee
Ranger District Forest Ranger, an Acting Deputy Forest Supervisor from
Kentucky, several retired Forest Rangers and many others in the USFS
uniform . JJ was only 300 miles short of completing a 6,000-mile challenge
to personnel for covering the area of his district. His co-workers are
finishing this task for him . One more little-known accomplishment of this
guy! Thank you all for showing your respect to our friend in such a
dignified and professional manner.
JJ's love for street rods, cruisers and drag racing was honored by many of
his buddies -some drove their prized possessions in the rain to form a
procession to the cemetery, many wore their club or event T-shirts
proudly, all will miss his valuable contribution to this part of our
lives. Among those attending were Wally Bell who had campaigned the 1964
Mercury Comet( formerly owned by Ronnie Sox) and drove pro-modified Chevys
to national records in the 1970's and Kenny Warren, driver of a Ford
factory Thunderbolt in 1964 and owner of the famous Virginia Twister
Funnycar. A floral arrangement was sent by Diane Sox. She wrote a
wonderful note about JJ so please go to Ronnie Sox website to check it
Flowers were sent by Bruce Larson, National Hot Rod Association World
Champion of 1989, and Dickie Estevez, owner and driver of the Daddy
Warbucks Nostalgia Falcon.
Reed Koeppe sent us an e-mail that Dennis read, in part, at the funeral
"I talked to the Director (Nancy Wilson) of the East Coast Drag Times
Reunion and I got the "OK" to have a special memorial/presentation for JJ
at the reunion in Oct. ! Also, I trying to get some artwork done so I can
have some decals/stickers made - imagine JJ in his wheelchair w/
wheelybars doing a burnout - w/ the words "Racing with us forever"(or
words to that effect). A number of guys have already said that they'd put
them on their race cars."
That lightened the mood a lot. Several other awards and nominations
for Halls of Fame are being considered as well.
All this time we had been in the presence of a humble Super Star !
Saturday at 2pm we'll get together with some of you and continue some of
these memories we have to share. See yesterday's post for details.
I'll close this blog down in a few days . It has been an honor and a
privilege for Dennis and me to get to know all of you-whether you wrote in
or not we feel the friendship that we all have in common for JJ and his
family. We've gotten so much more than you can imagine from being able to
have you all to be in touch with during this sad and difficult time. Love
to all and thank you very very much.
Pam & Dennis Cox