HAPPY FATHER'S DAY 2013 to my "father", Henry Brantley Smith 11/18/1911 to 10/17/2000

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Advantage III Realty in Lake Nona BK3059813

On this Father's Day, 2013, it has been 13 long years since my granddaddy went home to Our Lord and I can hear him everyday in my daily life.

I hear him saying " "you get that education" and you will make granddaddy proud!" "You will be the first one in our family to go to college and make something of yourself."

My grandfather was an 8th grade educated man, but he made it his life project to make sure I would be better. He never knew that would never happen as he was the greatest, kindest, gentlest man that ever walked this earth.

I remember growing up and starting fishing with him in a 14 ft Starcraft Vbottom boat with a 9.9 hp johnson motor.

People used to tease him when we went out as he had pole holders down both sides of the boat and we would hang out 6 cane poles with live bait in Lake Okeechobee. Looking back it was the first Satellite receiver as every fish in the lake seemed to find us.

Limits on fish never meant anything to him as all the game wardens knew his purpose for fishing. He did it for Love, for the love of me going with him, for the love of being out there on the weekends, for the love of a very special family, Adie Mae Johnson of Miami, FL, and for the love of his community as he held FREE FISH FRY twice a year and he cooked for as many people as would come out.

I remember instead of cooler's to hold the fish, we took 2 55 gallon trash cans and we fished by hand each weekend until we filled them up.

Then the fish came home and went in 15 per bag and into a deep freezer. On Monday night, we always took a drive about 45 minutes to the Liberty City area of Miami from the Village Green area of Miami and we delivered fresh fish to Adie Mae Johnson. I remember her like it was yesterday. This tradition started with her husband Charlie and when he passed away at a young age, my granddaddy kept it up for his wife until he retired in 1974 and left miami for Okeechobee. He made sure weekly she had fresh fish just like her family did before her husband passed.

You see, her husband and my grandfather worked construction together on Miami Beach building some of the first skyscrapers on Miami Beach. He was safety foreman and Charlie Johnson was a laborer for him along with his lifelong friend Mel Greenfield who was the masonary and concrete guy. Together these 3 moved from project to project for years together.

He used to tell me stories of the Fountainbleu Hotel when it was in its early days and had secret passages and back rooms for illegal gambling and alcohol. He worked on the 4 Ambassadors which was the first 40 story building on the beach.

He never took elevators. He took a nearly 60 lb box of tools, slung it over his shoulder and hiked the stairs.

He was the only constant "father" I ever had as my dad died when I was 3 my mom's idea of substitutes just never cut it.

My granddaddy bought me my first bike and taught me to ride. My granddaddy taught me to cut grass when the 2nd rung of the lawnmower was taller than me. My granddaddy bought me a fisher price bubble blowing toy lawn mower for my first toy.

From this, my grandfather taught me to build and rebuild lawnmower engines before I was 10 and by the time I was 12, I had a few neighborhood lawns to cut. By 13, I was cutting 2-3 yards daily after school and my granddaddy was driving me to "work". By the time I was 14, I had a regular business going and helping my mom financially.

And it was my granddaddy who with only an 8th grade always told me I could be something in life with an education.

He made it our personal game that everytime I walked in to see him, he quizzed me on math. It was a running joke in my family that I became a human calculator.

I was the only child in 2nd grade that knew multiplication to the 12's and I would go to the grocery store with my mom and just for a test would keep total of the entire days shopping cart including sales tax IN MY HEAD and have the total before we got to the register. This came in handy since we grew up very humble and sometimes it meant putting something back to make the order affordable.

From 3rd grade when I won my first award in school for academics it was on. Every years of school, I won something and my Granddaddy was the first to hear about it or see it. From academics, to spelling bees, to creative writing, to music, to band, to finally finding athletics in high school to Future BUsiness Leaders of America, and then into College with Phi Beta Lambda. No matter what I succeeded at I knew it was him behind me pushing.

In my Junior year of High School, I didn't have any direction as yet, and no money for college, so I joined the delayed entry program for the Navy to enter the month after graduation. Little did I know, all my years of doing various things in school would add up finally and in my Senior Year, I won 2 full ride scholarships to Junior College for Creative Writing and that brings me to today.

One of the first things I ever wrote it right here and this humble man I call granddaddy received this in 1982 and I got it back in his personal effects on the day of his death. He kept it in his wallet for 18 years until he passed away:


I also found this in his wallet that he saved until his death and again he thought this was most important to him that he carried it on his person for the rest of his life on this earth:

And lastly, I found this in his wallet that he carried all his life:

These are the things he felt so strongly about that he carried them in his wallet until the day he died.

A simple poem that his grandson wrote for him and was the first Creative Writing piece that won me 2 scholarships.

My final report card from my first 2 years of college where I graduated with a 4.0 PERFECT SCORE because of my Granddaddy.

And his marriage license to the one woman he cherished all his life for 54 years of marriage.

These were the most important possessions he carried to his grave.

There was one other that he was so proud of and that was his STETSON Hat. It was magnificant and he must have had it since I was 2 and he always said all his life, he would be buried with that hat, but he knew that I loved that hat also and in his final months, he told me that was a waste of such a beautiful hat to take it with him, so he passed it to me.

I knew from that moment exactly what I would do with it.

I took it to a professional hat shop, I got it professionally cleaned, I got it reshaped as it had been in storage, I got it restored to pristine condition, and then I wore it in honor of him to his funeral. And at the grave, last thing before my granddaddy went to his final resting place, I placed his hat in his hands and he is holding it forever.


These are some of the last pictures I have with my grandparents.

This one on top was taken just 15 months before he went home to the Lord. He spent his last 5 years with me in Orlando and that was only appropriate since he took care of me all my life, it was the least I could do.

The one on the right is my grandparents on their 50th anniversary.

And the one on the bottom is his sister, he and I at his favorite restaurant.

I miss you each and every day Granddaddy and you are always in my heart and I can even still hear you today saying you are PROUD and I know you are smiling as I write this as this day is all about you.

And I will forever proudly carry your name and continue to make you proud as love and care for people just as you did.

You are my TRUE HERO, Henry Brantley Smith and I miss you so much!

Your's with all my love, this Father's Day June 17th, 2012 from your "son" and "Grandson" Kevin Brantley Tolbert.

Posted by

The Florida Tolbert Team, a division of Kevin B Tolbert Real Estate Network

Kevin B Tolbert PA

Keller Williams Advantage III Realty

Keller Williams Land Division

Million Dollar Guild Award Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist

Certified International Property Specialist

Certified Distress Property Expert

BOLD Graduate X 13 Listing Specialist

9161 Narcoosee Rd, Suite 107

Orlando, FL 32827

Direct:  772-834-0099

Email:  kevinbtolbert@kw.com

To see all our local listings please goto www.SearchforSouthFloridaHome.Com for South Florida and go to www.searchforcentralfloridahome.com for central Florida.

To see all my blogs, please goto www.kevinbtolbertpa.com



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Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Oh Kevin, I am so touched by your tribute to your father. My grandfather was also a builder in Miami and when the building boom occured he built houses and subdivisions before I was born. He was an excellent carpenter. I was born in Miami but moved to TN when I was starting school.

Your grandfather was so proud of you as he should have been because you are a good son and a success. He is smiling down on you now.

Jun 15, 2013 01:33 PM #1
Florida Tolbert Team Keller Williams Advantage
Keller Williams Advantage III Realty in Lake Nona - Orlando, FL
Keller Williams Land Division Specialist

One of my granddaddy's prized possessions was his GOLD UNION card, He was Local 125 Carpenter's Union for 50 years.

He always told me that the Union took care of each other as long as they stayed strong and I remember picket lines as a kid and he never crossed one. 

I remember when he had his stroke in Okeechobee in 1987 13 years after he retired, I still don't know how they found out, but before we could transport him from Okeechobee to Indian River Memorial Hospital in Vero Beach which took about 2 hours, there were UNION brothers waiting for us to make sure he was well cared for.

And it was his Union brothers and lifelong best friend Mel Greenfield who showed up for his funeral in Okeechobee.

Jun 15, 2013 02:00 PM #2
Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

That is a wonderful tribute to your father.  Happy fathers day.

Jun 15, 2013 02:29 PM #3
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Kevin, thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute and lessons from you grandfather.

Jun 15, 2013 04:47 PM #4
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

How fortunate you were to have such a wonderful man as your Grandaddy taking over the role of Father for you Kevin.  I remember reading of him before.  Your tribute to him is beautiful and heartfelt.  I'm sure that to this day, you still make him proud because of all of the amazing things he taught you while you were growing up.  The fact he kept your poem to him in his wallet for 18 years speaks volume of his character and his feelings for you.  I love that you now have it too Kevin.  

Jun 15, 2013 08:58 PM #5
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

What a beautiful story, Kevin. I know he is smiling down at you right now and proud of the man you have become. Remembering those who made us what we are and loved us is so important! I am sure you had a remarkable grandfather and were lucky to have him as your father figure!

Jun 15, 2013 11:49 PM #6
Florida Tolbert Team Keller Williams Advantage
Keller Williams Advantage III Realty in Lake Nona - Orlando, FL
Keller Williams Land Division Specialist


Thanks so much and Happy Father's Day, I hope everyone who still is blessed to have their father here spent the day together.  I know i missed mine. 

Jun 16, 2013 10:53 AM #7
Florida Tolbert Team Keller Williams Advantage
Keller Williams Advantage III Realty in Lake Nona - Orlando, FL
Keller Williams Land Division Specialist


I have hundreds of granddaddyisms as he and I spent many many years together as he was the one constant I could rely on in my life. 

He is so missed. 

Jun 16, 2013 10:56 AM #8
Florida Tolbert Team Keller Williams Advantage
Keller Williams Advantage III Realty in Lake Nona - Orlando, FL
Keller Williams Land Division Specialist


that and his 50 year GOLD Union card from  the Carpenter's Union Local 125 that he was so proud of, he carried in his wallet to his dying day. 

Jun 16, 2013 10:58 AM #9
Florida Tolbert Team Keller Williams Advantage
Keller Williams Advantage III Realty in Lake Nona - Orlando, FL
Keller Williams Land Division Specialist

Barbara Jo,

You have no idea.  I remember one incident in a KMart as a kid when my grandmother who was overweight sometime in her life was shopping and this guy said something extremely rude about her taking too much aisle and my grandfather who was always very level, but when it came to my grandmother, he was already dragging this guy out of the store before the manager stopped him and begged him to let him go.

He and I shared this temperment. 

I too have a very calm nature and high boiling point, but should you ever hit it, God Help You. 

I remember in the Navy, when someone found my boiling point after almost 2 hours of antagonizing, and it cost him a broken jaw, 3 cracked ribs, and nearly got me arrested and until he told them he caused it.  And this was a great friend. 

Jun 16, 2013 11:08 AM #10
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