In Memory

Jim Smith

James Smith Obituary

James "Jim" Emerson Smith III, MD. FACC. born October 1, 1954 in Kansas, passed away peacefully in the early morning of September 24, 2023. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Sumathi Smith, and was a devoted father to eight surviving children Greer (New York City), Audrey (Palo Alto, CA), Zachary (Covington, LA), Luke (Austin, TX), Rachel (Oakland, CA), James (Oxford, MS), Rohan, and Shreya. He was a doting grandfather to Theodore (Greer), Eloise (Greer), Sterling (Zachary), and Adelaide (Rachel). As a father in law, he admired Brian McKenna (Greer), Campbell Myers (Audrey), Hannah Beth Salter (Zachary), and Benjamin Waller (Rachel). He was a loving dog-dad to Yogi, Maha, and Barney, the wall-eyed-junkyard dog his son James brought back from geology camp. He is survived by his sister Nancy, and joins his parents, James Smith, Jr. and Donna Cousins Smith, and his son David Smith. Jim started his life in Chicago, the home of his beloved Cubbies, after spending his earliest years in a German hotel where his father was stationed in the Army. His mother often told stories of a young Jimmy bellying up to the bar to enjoy a beer and German drinking songs with the patrons. His family moved to Kearney, Nebraska when he was a young teenager. A big fish in a small town, he made the most of his time there and had fond memories of high school with his friends Dick and Amy. He told stories of surreptitiously printing and distributing an underground newspaper to the student body, playfully pranking teachers, organizing rock concerts with the inventor of the Stanley Screamer speakers, and planting hundreds of trees on Earth Day. After a brief stint in a rubber factory in New Hampshire, Jim attended Hastings College in Nebraska, where he met lifelong friends Tim Geller and Joe Lundeen. His adventures continued through college, including taking biology trips to the Florida keys and Mexico, smuggling a Toyota Land Cruiser to Nicaragua during the 1979 revolution, and fostering a budding curiosity for cannabis with a secret lab for testing in his very own dorm room. Jim then attended the University of Nebraska Medical School. Following medical school he interned in Cook County Illinois before moving to New Orleans for a cardiology fellowship at Tulane. He remained in New Orleans and eventually went into private practice as an interventional cardiologist on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, known locally as the Northshore. Jim joined the Navy Reserves after medical school and was a corpsman attached as a physician to a marine unit. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before being honorably discharged in the late 90s. He was quite fond of his time in the Navy and held a great reverence for the US Armed Forces. He practiced medicine in southeastern Louisiana for nearly thirty years and performed the first angioplasty on the Northshore. He was pivotal in the planning and construction of Louisiana Heart Hospital in Lacombe, Louisiana. The Heart Hospital was instrumental in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina as it was one of the only hospitals that remained functional in the days immediately following the storm. Throughout his time as a physician, Jim saved countless lives and contributed to the advancement of techniques in cardiology across the Gulf Coast. Many will remember Jim as the doctor with flashy earrings, orange tennis shoes, and bespoke suits who would sometimes arrive at the hospital on a motorcycle in a fringed leather jacket – a welcome sight for many families as he came with a well-earned reputation as a brilliant and courageous doctor who enjoyed pushing boundaries. In his last years, Jim was a fierce proponent of medical cannabis. He was excited about the potential applications for medicine and loved sharing his passion with everyone he encountered, often changing minds about the efficacy of the medicine. He also strongly believed in the industrial applications of hemp. In 2022, he was appointed to the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Promotion and Research Advisory Board. Through his unrelenting advocacy in his final years, Louisiana's medical marijuana and industrial hemp industries were advanced to where they stand today. As a father to nine children, Jim encouraged each to find their own way through life. He connected with his children through his love of fun, fashion, music, sports, art, coffee, books, science, and technology. He was the most content when surrounded by family, whether at Jazz Fest, on a beach vacation, or playing hand & foot around the dining table. Jim Smith was Rock 'n Roll. Always in the corner of the underdog, he was a great lover of life and a rebel at heart, always marching to the beat of his own drum. He had a full life of highs, lows, dips, and curves. He was loving and complex and truly larger than life. He will live on through his family, friends, and everyone he touched. His restless and charismatic spirit will forever be cherished by those who knew him. His absence in the lives of his loved ones will be felt for decades to come. We love you deeply and will miss you. His family will host a celebration of Jim's life to be held October 1, 2023, his 69th Birthday. The event is open to all who knew and loved him. It will be held at Covington Country Club located at 200 Country Club Dr, Covington, LA 70433, beginning at 11am.

Published by The Times-Picayune from Sep. 27 to Sep. 28, 2023.