Smith, Luther "Elgin" Jr.

World War II Veteran Was Longtime Chattanooga Realtor And Civic Leader

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Elgin Smith
Elgin Smith

Luther “Elgin” Smith, Jr., 92, went home to be with the Lord on July 10, 2018, surrounded by family. 

He was a loving husband and father and lifelong leader in churches, community and business. He was a member of Brainerd Baptist Church. Elgin graduated from Central High School in 1944.  Right after high school, he enlisted in the Navy and served in Panama during World War II.  He had a 56-year career as a realtor beginning in 1959,  and only retired at age 89, in December 2014. 

In his real estate career, he served as president of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors and President of the Tennessee Association of Realtors for two terms. He was Realtor of the Year for the State of Tennessee in 1968, and was appointed by the Governor of Tennessee to serve on the Real Estate Commission in 1972.  He served on the Commission for four years, the last two years as Chairman.  He also served as a director for the National Association of Realtors for five years.  He served on the Professional Standards Committee for the National Association of Realtors for 23 years. This is the committee that monitors the ethical practices of Realtors. He was chairman of that committee the year that the Standards of Practice for the Realtor’s Code of Ethics was adopted.  These are the attributes and standards Realtors strive to maintain still today. 

Elgin served his community as president of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, president of the Better Business Bureau, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for the development of McKenzie Arena for UTC in 1979 and many other local boards.  He was chairman of the Chattanooga Armed Forces Week Celebration in 1972 and 1973. The celebration was awarded the “Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge Gold Metal in 1972.  He was a member of the Optimist Club of Chattanooga for over 50 years and served as its president for Chattanooga and Tennessee. In 1982, Tennessee Temple University invited then Governor Ronald Reagan to come and speak. As chairman of the Executive Committee, Elgin was asked to introduce Governor Reagan. He ended his introduction by saying, “Help me welcome the next President of the United States.” His words turned out to be prophetic. 

He was a member of Highland Park Baptist Church from 1949 until 1990 when they moved to Brainerd Baptist Church.  In both churches he served as a deacon and Sunday School leader.  He felt his greatest calling and accomplishment was leading the Youth Department for 39 years.   He has been a member of the Gideons International since 1951, and aided in the distribution of Bibles throughout our area. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Luther E Smith, Sr. and Anna Clonts Smith and sister, June King, and grandson, Elgin Douglas Jensen. 

He is survived by his loving wife of 68½ years, Jean Cofield Smith, and daughter, Susan Smith Jensen (Greg Pierce), grandchildren, Joy (Chad) Eslinger, Amy (Brian) Thompson, and Billy (Christi) Jensen and 11 great-grandchildren, all of Chattanooga. He is also survived by several beloved nieces and nephews, cousins and other extended family members.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Brainerd Baptist Church on Friday, July 13, at 12:30 p.m., followed by burial at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.  Billy Jensen, Chad Eslinger, Brian Thompson, Reed Eslinger, Jim Cofield and John Cofield will serve as Pallbearers.  Honorary Pallbearers are members of the Friendship Bible Study Class of Brainerd Baptist Church. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Gideons International for distribution of Bibles. The address is P.O. Box 97251, Washington, DC 20090-7251. 

Special thanks to the caring staff at The Bridge at Ooltewah and Amedisys Hospice for their loving care.

Visit to share condolences to the family and view the memorial tribute.

The family will receive friends from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 12, at Heritage Funeral Home-East Brainerd Road and an hour prior to the service at Brainerd Baptist Church.  

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