The Rev. DuBois "Obe" Tangier Smith, descendant of Smithtown's founder, dies

The Rev. DuBois "Obe" Tangier Smith died May

The Rev. DuBois "Obe" Tangier Smith died May 13 of natural causes in Valley City, N.D., after moving there in 2007. (Credit: handout)

The Rev. DuBois "Obe" Tangier Smith was the last of the ninth-generation Smith family of Smithtown, descended from Richard Bull Smith, who founded the town and, according to legend, rode a bull as he set up its boundaries. He was also the grandson of Caleb Tangier Smith, the namesake of Caleb Smith State Park.

Smith died May 13 of natural causes in Valley City, N.D., after moving there in 2007. He was 82. He attended Cornell University in his 30s, where he studied agriculture, and became a minister in the United Methodist Church at 60.

"He showed me that if you have a dream or wish to do something, it's never too late to work hard to make it happen," said his daughter, the Rev. Dorothy Miller Borden, of New Hanover, Pa.


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Smith was born in Brooklyn on Feb. 17, 1931, the youngest of six children of Edward Henry Leighton Smith and Dorothy Miller Smith. He grew up in Smithtown's village of Nissequogue on his family's farm, where he developed a love for farming and especially for John Deere tractors.

When he was 16, he left school to farm, but he always wanted to go to Cornell University's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Borden said. He was able to achieve this in his 30s, after taking classes at Suffolk County Community College. In 1967, he received his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from Cornell and accepted a research associate position there.

He returned to Long Island in 1969, after marrying Frances "Nannie" Nobles in New York City in October 1968. In December 1971, his daughter, Dorothy, was born. In 1972, he opened a John Deere dealership in Riverhead.

He sold the dealership around 1990 to focus on becoming a minister.

"He was really proud of being a descendant of the Smiths and always stood up for his family and his friends, and his community and church," said Sue Krall, who met Smith in the late 1970s when she joined the St. James Episcopal Church.

Though Smith had always been active in that church, he chose instead to become a United Methodist minister in 1991. He ministered in Bridgehampton and later, White Sulphur Springs in upstate Sullivan County. He retired at 70 in 2001.

"He had a good sense of humor," Krall said. "Even after he became a Methodist minister, he always used to laugh and say, 'I'm coming home to St. James Episcopal Church to be laid to rest.' "

His wife died in August 2001. He is survived by Borden, her husband and two grandchildren.

A memorial service for Smith will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the St. James, 490 North Country Rd., St. James.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be sent to the St. James Episcopal Church or Falkner Swamp Reformed United Church of Christ, 2077 Swamp Pike, Gilbertsville, Pa., 19525.

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