A Tribute to My Dad…

Far from being perfect, my dad left a legacy of astute financial management. He cautioned against having “yearnings” that exceeded your “earnings”. He probably never made more than $100 per week when we were growing up but he stretched that money to meet all the needs (food, clothing, transportation, and housing) of our 9-member household. There was no lack. The food budget was $25/wk and there was no such thing as going over because $25 was all he gave my mom or me to shop with (I sometimes did the shopping as my mom was often sick and couldn’t walk.) I learned then the money management skills that I still use today–and one overriding principle: you can always live off less money. Further, I learned that if you decided to lend someone some money, they must sign a PROMISSORY NOTE (he required COLLATERAL and a PROMISSORY NOTE!). You didn’t want to owe him; he was coming for his $$$ and your credit was FOREVER ruined with him. Even today, when I caution, “Don’t forget that I’m Rube Smith’s daughter” everyone knows what that means… no-nonsense when it comes to my money. Oddly, as Executor of his Will, I discovered in his papers that he balanced his frugality with a big dose of generosity to struggling churches and to people who were incarcerated.

Not much of a nurturer, I never heard him say “I love you” until he was on his death bed; I was so shocked I made a joke of it. He was proud of me but never told me so; others later told me he always spoke of my accomplishments. He was especially impressed that I was the Chief Financial Officer for now Presiding Bishop Charles Blake (West Angeles Church) whom the people in the Southern churches called “The BIG Bishop”. An eternal chauvinist, he couldn’t believe Bishop Blake gave such a responsible job to a woman. Once he asked, “You mean they couldn’t find ONE deacon around there to do that job???” I didn’t even try to explain that building a $66 million Cathedral, negotiating the $33 million bank financing, and running a multi-million dollar operating budget were much more complicated than just counting money (which I never did–still ain’t good at actually counting).

Rest in peace, Daddy. I know that you and Mom are both in Heaven so I’m convinced you are finally seeing eye to eye. I knew you two loved each other and that’s why neither of you ever re-married, choosing rather to remain “separated” for over 40 years. By the way, thanks for the financial windfall you left us all when you passed away. I can’t believe you saved that much money! You certainly practiced what you preached. I honor you for that!

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