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Smith Family Funeral Homes Hot Springs Obituaries

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Everett Smith, who turns 91 next month, “still lives at the funeral home (in Glenwood) in an apartment in the back and is still very active in the business,” Jeff Smith said. “That was a prerequisite that he could work as long as he wants to and is able. Nobody is leaving.”

With the acquisition of the Davis-Smith Funeral Homes, they now have eight locations in central Arkansas, a role Jeff Smith and his team have always taken to heart.Tony Smith said when he and his wife got to the point they were “ready to transition with our age and everything that was going on,” they turned to Jeff Smith for advice.

They changed the name to Davis-Smith Funeral Home, keeping the Davis name “because it was always a special part of us,” Everett Smith said. Jeff Smith noted they will now use the appropriately named Smith Family moniker for the former Davis-Smith locations since the Davis name “is so far removed by now.”
Davis-Smith opened its Hot Springs location at 2205 Airport Road on Aug. 18, 2001, he said. “For several years, we had talked about how this part of Hot Springs needed a funeral home” and then he was “out on a call about midnight and drove past this piece of property and saw a ‘For Sale’ sign and told dad and the rest kind of fell into place.”

“I see it as the two Smith families coming together,” Jeff Smith, who owns Smith Family Funeral Homes with his wife, Leslie, said. “There were a lot of reasons I was excited about this, but the main reason was all of us getting a chance to work together.”
“This isn’t just a job for us — it’s a calling,” he said. “When I reflect on what my grandfather started over 65 years ago when he opened our first funeral home — the sacrifices he made and his conviction for his work — I am always humbled. I wish he could be here to see how far we’ve come. But more than that, I wish he could see the passion with which we serve our families. We are so honored to become part of the Hot Springs and Glenwood communities and look forward to meeting new neighbors and friends at the Smith Family Funeral Homes — Hot Springs and Glenwood locations.”The deal closed on Dec. 29. However, Tony Smith, his wife, LaDonna, and his father, Everett “Paul” Smith, the original owners, all still work at the business.In 2008, they bought a funeral home in Beebe. In 2010, John Smith retired and Jeff and Leslie Smith bought the business from him. In 2012, they bought a funeral home in Benton which was “a little different. It was one that had failed that we bought and had to start from scratch.” In 2015, they bought a funeral home in Sherwood and the next year bought one in Arkadelphia.”He told us what we needed to do to get started and then maybe a month later, he told me, ‘I just want to tell you one thing: I want to be in the mix,'” LaDonna Smith said, noting the merger discussions began in the spring of 2021.

He said they never had plans to expand but his parents and grandparents “did a great job and had a great reputation and started getting calls from people wanting us to buy their business. That’s how we’ve grown in every case. It just organically came about. In every case, the owner was really ready to retire and reached out to us.”When he finished school, Jeff Smith said his father encouraged him “to go work someplace else, to try other things, and I did” but returned and began working at the funeral home again in 2006. “They don’t want to retire,” Jeff Smith said. “They just want to transition and have a different role in the business. This is a relationship business and having those established relationships continue on means so much to the families. To have that peace of mind knowing that the Smiths are still going to be here and taking care of them.” In 2020, they bought a location in Little Rock that was the largest funeral home in the city, while their North Little Rock location holds the distinction of being the largest funeral home in the state, “serving more families out of that one location than any other funeral home in Arkansas,” Jeff Smith said, noting they average “over 500 funerals a year consistently. So we have the largest funeral homes on both sides of the river.””We can help take some of the headache of ownership off their shoulders but for the families they still get the love that they’ve always received from the Smiths,” Jeff Smith said. “So it really is the two Smith families coming together.”Jeff Smith said his grandfather, Clifford Smith, started the Smith Family Funeral Home in North Little Rock in 1955 and “the first family he served, when the person passed away, Everett went and picked up the deceased for my granddad. So our families have known each other for generations.”

“Not to see if he wanted to buy it, we just wanted some help and knew he was real knowledgeable about things like that. The more we talked, the more we decided this was what we needed to do,” he said.
“Right now, we haven’t changed much,” Tony Smith said. “This gives us the freedom to transition without as much responsibility for everything. Now I can concentrate on what I like to do.””We’re very fortunate that we have grown every year since we began and we were growing when Jeff came with us,” Everett Smith said, noting the secret to success is “caring for the people. You like them, they like you. Treat them good and most of them are good to you.”

Jeff Smith noted his grandfather, Clifford, had never worked in the funeral business “a day in his life,” when he started their first location after a friend suggested North Little Rock needed a funeral home, but that was the only place his father, John, had ever worked. He said they lived above the funeral home when they started and he worked there “when I was in school and coming up.”Smith Family Funeral Homes has acquired Davis-Smith Funeral Home’s two locations in Hot Springs and Glenwood, combining the legacy of two Smith families that, while not related, share a common commitment to serving the community.