In 1908, the year the late Rev. Noah Smith was born, America was getting ready to elect William Howard Taft as its 27th president. Lyndon B. Johnson, the man who would become the 36th President of the United States, was also born.
Some 22 years later, on March 8, 1930, Taft died. Nearly 43 years later, on Jan. 22, 1973, Johnson followed Taft to the grave. But Smith lived on.
And he would live through the administrations of 18 American presidents to become the oldest practicing preacher in the U.S., until last month when he died at the ripe old age of 107. He told his church family and 97-year-old wife, who had gathered at his bedside, “good night” one last time and never woke up again.
“He never seemed like he was 107,” Charles Hallman, a steward board member of the Wayman A.M.E Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, told The Christian Post a day after Smith’s life was feted with admiration during a homegoing service Thursday.
The Rev. Alphonse Reff Sr. told CBS, “He has left a legacy that is really indescribable.”
Smith, a former artist and musician, who would go on to mentor many pastors, did not become a minister until the age of 49. He had spent the last 15 years of his life worshipping at Wayman A.M.E Church and everyone felt it.
“He was always bright and energetic,” said Hallman. “Always had a word of wisdom to speak. Every time that I saw him I made sure that I shook his hand basically because I never knew anybody who lived past 90, so I wanted to make sure that I at least touched his hand and talked to him.”
The last time Smith attended his church on Sept. 6 he suffered a fall and hurt himself, but never left for the hospital until he was allowed to read Scripture to his congregation.
“He volunteered to read the Scripture for the service despite the fact that he wasn’t feeling really well. And that to me was his lasting memory, because he could have declined that. But that’s how dedicated he was to the Scripture, his pastor and his mission, that he chose to speak,” said Hallman.