MOUNT CARMEL — Businessman Hobart “Skip” Smith passed away Thursday, but the positive influence he had on the community will continue in the businesses he built, his civic contributions, and in the example he set.
Smith, 66, was probably best known recently as the founder of Skip’s Diner, which originally opened in Mount Carmel at the intersection of Englewood Avenue and Main Street.
Smith eventually sold that property, which was developed into an O’Reilly Auto Parts store, but he later opened Skip’s Burgers and Ice Cream in Allandale.
He also developed the SKIP-EZ market and gas station at the corner of Main Street and Hammond Avenue and for a time was owner and operator of Dairy Cup on Main Street.
Retired Police Chief Jeff Jackson remembers Smith not only as a good business leader for Mount Carmel, but also a good civic leader “and just a real good friend.”
“Skip was always there when you needed him,” Jackson told the Times News Friday. “He would show up on fire scenes with coffee or food. He always took care of us (city employees) during the Block Party. He was an integral part of the community. He wanted to stay involved in everything, and he always wanted to help.
“He not only cared about people professionally. He cared about people personally.”
Longtime mayor and alderman Gary Lawson remembered Smith Friday as a good friend and a great value to the community.
“He was always giving, as far as the kids were concerned,” Lawson said. “He was always there to help them, to sponsor teams, to give free ice cream away and promote recreational programs for the kids. He did a great job, and he was a great asset to the community of Mount Carmel.”
Lawson added, “Anything I asked Skip to do, he would help me. He never said no. If I asked him for help, he was right there.”
Smith was honored by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in 2017 with a proclamation that identified a few of his contributions to the community.
That proclamation stated:
* On countless occasions Smith has donated food and services in times of emergency and during community events.
* He has served the community by owning and operating businesses including the Dairy Cup, Skip’s Diner, and SKIP-EZ.
* Smith served on the Sewer Board and was a member of the Community Chest for the town of Mount Carmel.
* He served on the Tennessee Higher Education Board under Gov. Lamar Alexander.
* He served as a volunteer at the Holston Valley Medical Center.
* He was a founding organizer of the Mount Carmel Block Party and served on the committee from 1986-92.
* Has continuously supported youth sports in the Parks and Recreation Department, as well as the Senior Center.
* He has enjoyed the loving companionship of his wife Jimmie Smith for the past 47 years, and is the father of Hobart “Chip” Smith III and Charity Hammond, and grandfather to his three grandchildren.
* Skip Smith exemplifies the spirit of allegiance to family and community that are characteristic of a true Tennessean.
“These were very kind words, but I don’t think there was a word in here that could be said about me without mentioning a lot of other folks,” Smith said, upon receiving the proclamation. “Every time I did something in Mount Carmel, it was just me, maybe, that you saw doing it. Behind the scenes I was going and asking someone else to help me or tell me what to do, how to do it, or when to do it. Those first Block Parties went from 800 (visitors) to 15,000 and 20,000 in just a couple of years.”
Smith added, “That didn’t happen just because of me. That was because of the people in this town that stood behind me and gave me their word they would do something. They made me look good. I didn’t make them look good.”