Roy McBee Smith, Sr. was born November 4, 1928, in Tampa, Florida, and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. He graduated from The Citadel in 1950 and served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1952 during the Korean War. In 1955, he earned his LL.B. from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
In 1960, Smith was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives on his platform to establish a property tax inventory and assessment system for Spartanburg County. At the end of his term, he was appointed as Spartanburg County Attorney to guide the program into effect. He was thereafter reappointed 20 times over a period of 41 years.
As Spartanburg County Attorney, Smith performed the legal work for establishing Spartanburg Technical College, the University of South Carolina Spartanburg, and Spartanburg County’s first home rule governing body. He also worked with members of the legislature to enact the Health Services District Act and with Spartanburg County Council to convert the county hospital into a regional hospital district. Smith also built a successful civil law practice.
Smith served on the Board of Managers for the S.C. Historical Society, as a member and past president of the Spartanburg County Bar Association, as a member and past president of the S.C. County Attorneys Association, and as a member of the American Society of Hospital Attorneys and the S.C. Society of Hospital Attorneys. He also authored the biography of Vardry McBee, as well as articles for the S. C. Historical Society and the Journal of the Greenville Historical Society. He received the Award of Merit for excellence in journalism by the National Episcopal Communicators in 1998. Smith was posthumously awarded the Order of the Palmetto by Gov. Mark Sanford in 2006.
In all of his dealings with the public and with his fellow attorneys, Roy McBee Smith was unfailingly courteous and always willing to share his knowledge and expertise with other lawyers. He never sought the spotlight, choosing instead to allow his works to speak for him, and to reveal him to be a talented attorney and a man of unquestioned integrity.
Smith is survived by his wife, Grace Jackson Smith; their six children, William McBee Smith, Edith McBee Hardaway, Grace S. Gomez, Ella Montgomery Cart, Mary Jane Poole, and Roy McBee Smith, Jr.; and 13 grandchildren.