Walter B. “Pokie” Smyly, 82, formerly of Leland, MS, passed away Thursday, October 15, 2020. He had been a resident of Plantersville, MS, for the past two years. Born August 25, 1938, he was the third of five children born to E.L. “Bo” and Nellie Gray (Horton) Smyly of Darlove, MS. He and his wife, Mary Elizabeth “Liz” (Lamkin) Smyly had recently celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary.
He grew up on his family’s farm and was a lifelong resident of the Delta prior to moving to the Tupelo area. Like his whole family, he loved sports, particularly basketball and baseball. He was known for his two-handed set shot on the court and for his wicked knuckleball on the diamond. He also loved the outdoors and the friendships he made deer hunting for over 50 years in the Delta.
His love for baseball led him to play and coach semi-pro for many years. He and a group of friends finally would build their Field of Dreams and form the Leland Bakers to bring pro-style baseball to Leland in the mid-to-late 1970’s.
Mr. Smyly was a 1956 graduate of Arcola High School. After attending MS State for two years, he began his 35-plus year career with the U.S. Forest Service Southern Hardwoods Laboratory located in Stoneville, MS.
He was known by friends and acquaintances for his love for Christ, his family, and his home church in Leland (Lakeview Baptist) where he was a Deacon and Sunday School teacher for many years. Like his father, he was a quiet man who spoke loudly through his genuine concern for the needs of others. His example of making sure that, “the other person’s needs are met first” impacted the lives of those who knew him, particularly those of his immediate family.
Mr. Smyly was preceded in death by his parents and his older brother, Robert Irvin Smyly, Sr. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mary Elizabeth “Liz” Smyly and their three children, Terry (Hope) Smyly of Madison, GA; Bernie (Marilyn) Smyly of Plantersville, MS; and, Jodie Whittington of Columbus, MS; his older sister, Shelly Quick of Clinton, MS; younger brother, Dr. Dan S. Smyly (Gail) of Peachtree City, GA; and, his younger sister, Cherry Dyer of Cypress, TX. Also, remembering Mr. Smyly are his five grandchildren, Andrew Whittington of Kennesaw, GA; Ethan (Heather) Smyly of Tupelo, MS; Seth Smyly of Tupelo, MS; Jonathan Whittington and Elizabeth Grace Whittington of Columbus, MS.
Due to Covid precautions, a private graveside service was conducted at the Stoneville, MS cemetery on Sunday, October 18th at 3:00 p.m. under the direction of Boone Funeral Home.