Andrew Leo Smith was born on June 24, 1924 in Birmingham, Alabama. He was the second of five children born to Dave and Sallie Smith. His siblings include Royal E. Smith, Hollie Queen Brown, Eddie James Smith, and Betty Jean Wagner. Royal, Hollie, and Eddie preceded him in death. Andrew is affectionately known to his family and Alabama friends as "Leo", and they continue to call him by this name to this day.
Leo completed his elementary and secondary education in the Birmingham Public School system. He was a proud graduate of Westfield High School. In 1943 Leo enlisted in the United States Army and deployed to China and India where he served as a Corporal/clerk typist (Company A 858th Engineer Aviation Battalion) in the first Engineer Battalion to go to China to work on the Burma Road, and the only Black Battalion in all of the China Theater during World War II. Leo received several decorations/ citations during his military service and was honorably discharged in 1945.
Leo continued to further his education after his military service by attending the Atlanta College of Mortuary Science. He completed his degree in 1951. Leo was well known for his expertise in restorative care and was called upon to assist with complicated cases.
While attending school in Atlanta, Leo attended a dance in the Grady Memorial Hospital basement with one of his classmates. It was at this dance that Leo was introduced to Catherine Elaine Patterson (a Grady Memorial Hospital nursing student) and their dance through life has continued for 60 years. Leo was an excellent dancer and he and Catherine were quite the pair. Leo and Catherine were married May 29, 1952 and two sons were born to their union, Michael Jerome Smith, Sr. and Derrick Glen Smith. Michael also preceded Leo in death.
Leo was raised in a Christian home and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior at an early age. After moving to Chicago, Leo attended Gorham United Methodist Church and Greater Institutional AME Church. Leo and his family joined the Southlawn United Methodist Church of Chicago in 1969 during an Easter Sunday morning service under the pastorate of Rev. Fernando A. Laxamana. He remained an active member of Southlawn for more than 42 years. Leo was active with the United Methodist Men and always enjoyed cooking in the kitchen and serving meals.
Leo was a true husband, father, and provider. He strongly believed in providing for the needs of his family. His early employment included working for the Smith and Gaston Funeral Home; Birmingham, Alabama. After moving to Chicago, he continued to pursue employment in the funeral home arena and worked with several local funeral homes. In 1957 Andrew joined the Ford Motor Company, Chicago Stamping Plant Division and retired as a Security Manager after 31 years of service with the company.
Leo enjoyed watching NASCAR racing, Tiger Woods, and football games. He could be heard screaming at the television, if his favorite football team made a mistake. Sometimes you would think he was yelling at someone in the room. He was very proud of his children and their accomplishments and would share how proud he was with any and everyone who would listen. Not only was he proud of his own children, but anyone who was completing their education or landing a good job. Leo truly loved and enjoyed all of his relatives and loved to tease them.
Fond memories will continue to be cherished by his loving and devoted wife, Catherine; son, Derrick; sister, Betty Wagner (Birmingham, AI); Grandchildren, Michael Jr. and Krystal; Great-Granddaughter, Ja'Mya; Neices, Nephews, & Cousins; Michael Ellison, Floyd Harrell, and Sydney Maner who each cared for and treated Leo as if he was their own father. He will also be fondly remembered by his many longtime friends and Southlawn Church family.