Banks students, faculty honor Smith’s memory

Published 6:32 am Friday, February 17, 2012

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”

Banks Middle School paused for a time Thursday morning to honor the life and memory of Patrick Smith and to honor his mom, Angela Smith, a 26-year veteran teacher at Banks School.

The ceremony was a treasure trove of memories of Patrick Smith, who died at the age of 19 from injuries sustained in a rodeo accident.

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But, perhaps, it was the story that was not told of the affable young man that paints a complete picture of who he was.

Smith, a bareback rider, was competing in a PCA Rodeo in Shelbyville, Tenn. He was thrown from his horse and his head hit the wall of the indoor arena.

He was treated at a hospital in Shelbyville and then flown by helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville where he died three days later on Feb. 5, 2002.

Patrick Smith was an organ donor.

“Patrick did it on his own,” his mom said. “When he turned 16, they weren’t giving the driver’s test in Troy so I took him to Union Springs to get his license. When the man started to take his picture, Patrick said, ‘I want to be an organ donor.’ He had not said anything about it to me. He did it on his own.”

Smith said that she was told that the lives of 50 people were saved, or made better, because of her son’s decision.

“He would be glad to know,” she said.

Patrick Smith continues to impact lives through those who knew him and love him.

One after another, teachers and friends stepped forward on a cloudy but rainless morning to remember the tall, slender young man, who “talked slow and walked slow,” but had a presence about him that drew people to him.

The ceremony was organized by the Banks Middle School SGA. Advisor LaToya Gay said the faculty and students wanted to celebrate the life of Patrick Smith and honor Angela Smith for her dedication to her students and the community.

“This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Patrick’s untimely death and we wanted to show, in some way, how much we care,” Gay said. “We sold paper blossoms in memory of Patrick and placed them on a tree in the hallway. The tree is covered in blossoms. That says a lot about Patrick, as a person, and his mother’s impact on the school and community.”

Gay said the funds raised from the sale of the paper blossoms will be used to purchase books for the school’s library in Patrick Smith’s name. The Pike County School Indian Education Program donated two Bruce plum trees to be planted on the campus. The trees will bloom in February – the month Patrick lost his life.

Dr. Mark Head, former Banks School principal, remembered Smith as a “little fellow” on his termite football team who was taller and quieter than any of the other players, but was so well mannered that he made a lasting impression on everyone around him.

Mike Hogan taught Smith in agriscience and was his FFA advisor. He remembered him as respectful.

“Patrick had a unique sense of humor, and he walked to his own beat,” Hogan said. “He didn’t follow the crowd and he always did what he felt was the right thing. I will always remember Patrick.”

Miki Sheppard was one of Smith’s high school classmates and said he was a “dear friend.”

“Everyone loved Patrick,” Sheppard said. “He kept us together as a class. I am a better person just from having known him.”