gene ramsey smitherman

Gene Ramsey Smitherman, 72, died on January 22, 2020, at his home in Atlanta of an aggressive form of ALS. He was in the company of his family and beloved caregiver. 

Gene was born on Dec. 7, 1947, to Eva Jean and Erskine Smitherman in Bessemer, Alabama and was the eldest of four children.  He was a proud graduate of Indian Springs High School and Vanderbilt University.  Gene later earned a law degree from the University of Alabama and a Masters of Divinity from the University of the South School of Theology.

It was at Vanderbilt on the basketball court that Gene met his bride, Suzanne Nichols.  They married in December of 1971, and made Birmingham their home.  In Birmingham, Gene served as Counsel to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Suzanne and Gene later moved to Chattanooga, where Gene became partner at Chambliss Law.

After 19 years of practicing law, Gene felt tugged in a different direction.  In 1993, Gene and Suzanne began studying for the priesthood.  They were ordained Episcopal priests in 1997, shortly after a real highlight in Gene’s life: earning a private pilot’s license.  Gene served as Rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Kingsport, Tn., and Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Chattanooga. 

Gene was a music lover and an airplane enthusiast.  As an early student of manned space flight, he was thrilled to be an extra in the movie First Man.  He delighted equally in the music of Bach, Bob Dylan, and the winglets of a commercial jet.  He was a deeply spiritual man and father figure to many.  He loved entertaining a crowd, and, even as he navigated his way through the progression of ALS, he had us all in stitches every single day. He will be greatly missed.

Gene is preceded in death by his parents, and by several cherished Labrador Retrievers. 

He is survived by his siblings, Jan Padalino, Julie Rich, and Barry Smitherman, by Suzanne, his wife of 48 years, and by his children Matthew Smitherman (Jen), Caroline Henry (Patrick) and Eleanor Sprouse (Brandon).  He is also survived by four grandchildren, Norah, Katherine, Charlie and Clara, who loved their Papaw very, very much.

On Tuesday, Jan. 28, there will be a public visitation at 10 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m., at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to:
·  I am ALS:

·  Episcopal Relief and Development:

·  Monastery of the Holy Spirit: