John Carlton Smith, 83, died June 17, 2020, following a brief illness. Carlton was born on May 2, 1937, in Talladega, Alabama, son of John O. “Boots” and Mary “Dot” Smith.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Martha Lou, and two sons, John Kenneth (Brenda) and William Earl, sister, Virginia Ann Disspain (Jim), and sister-in-law, Janet. He is also survived by two beloved grandchildren, Mary Elizabeth and William David.
Carlton played football at Livingston State College. Following graduation in 1959, he became line coach at Bullock County High School. He often related an interesting story as to how he was hired for this job. He and Martha were traveling through Union Springs, pulling a U Haul trailer, during early summer in 1959 on their way to a small town in Florida to fill a position as assistant football coach there.
They stopped in Union Springs to seek help with a car problem. While at a local service station, people began asking questions as to who they were and where they were headed. Carlton responded that he was on his way to Florida to begin a coaching career.
A bystander quickly spoke up and said, “Well, we are looking for an assistant football coach here in Union Springs”! After a brief conversation, Superintendent R.J. Lawrence was called to the scene to meet Carlton and the rest is history! He became line coach and worked for Dr. Joe Stowers, Principal and R.G. Cook, head football coach. In 1961 his National Guard unit was activated.
Following a year of military service, he returned to Bullock County and served as head football coach until 1967. His record as head football coach here was 34 wins and 16 losses. His team was invited to two Camelia Bowl games, one against Auburn High School (BCHS lost) and one against Prattville High School (BCHS won). He was also the assistant basketball coach and the track coach.
The Smiths had two boys while living here and made numerous friends. He made a positive impact on the boys he coached, students he taught in the classroom, and on the entire community.
Throughout the remainder of Carlton’s career, he never forgot about his first job in Union Springs. He kept in touch with numerous Bullock County friends. Carlton attended funerals, weddings, class reunions and was a great support to friends during various times of need.
Carlton received a Masters Degree in Administration from Auburn University and a Doctorate in Administration from the University of Alabama. He always gave credit to his mentor, Dr. Joe Stowers, for “pushing” him to the next level. Obviously, Dr. Stowers observed tremendous talent, determination, and dedication in Carlton Smith and helped to put him on the pathway to a tremendous career in the field of education.
During his career, Carlton served as the first Superintendent of the Hartsell City School System and as Superintendent of Tuscaloosa County Schools and Vestavia City Schools.
He also served as Interim Superintendent of the Auburn City Schools. During his lengthy career, he also served in the administration of the school systems in Jackson, Mississippi and Columbia, South Carolina and in numerous school systems in Alabama.
Following retirement, Carlton served as Executive Director of the Spring Valley School, a private school whose mission he quickly took to heart. Spring Valley is an independent college preparatory school for students with learning disabilities in Birmingham, Alabama.
Donations can be made in memory of Carlton Smith to Spring Valley School, 2701 Sydney Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35211 or to Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, 1114 Oxmoor Rd. Birmingham, Alabama 35209.