Paul McCollum Smith, age 96, of LaFollette died peacefully on July 1, 2021 at LaFollette Court Assisted Living Center. Everyone knew him as Cooster. He was born in Vonore, Tennessee and lived in LaFollette.

Cooster attended LaFollette High School where he fell in love with Edith Sowder. He graduated from high school at Columbia Military Academy in 1943 and volunteered for the Navy. He was selected for officer training, graduated from Midshipmen’s School as a lieutenant, and served two years on an LST ship in the Philippines.

Following his military service, Cooster returned to LaFollette where he and Edith raised their family. He worked at Smith Hardware and Electric Company with his father P.W. (Cotton) and mother Reba Smith. In 1965, he became the owner of Smith Hardware and, in 1973, joined ACE Hardware, a co-operative owned by its retailers. Edith joined Cooster at the store in 1977 and they worked there until their retirement in 2001.

Cooster and Edith were lifelong members of the First Presbyterian Church in LaFollette. He served as a deacon and elder and Edith served two terms as President of the Women’s Presbytery. He often worked behind the scenes to see to a needed repair at the church or manse or to lend a helping hand to someone in need.

Golf was Cooster’s passion. He was an excellent player and won a number of tournaments. He loved playing with his father and friends. He loved good food, stories and movies. He never tired of a Hallmark movie after dinner. He loved Buddy, his dog, who was given to him shortly before Edith’s death. No dog has ever eaten more perfectly grilled chicken than Buddy.

Cooster is survived by his daughter, Angie Francis, sons Pat and Quinn, his grandchildren Adam and Claire Francis, his great grandsons Boyd and Zach Francis, niece Linda Hollingsworth, and nephew Bill Sowder.

He was predeceased by Edith Sowder, his wife of 68 years, an infant son, Paul McCollum Smith, Jr., and his parents, P.W. and Reba Smith.

The family wishes to thank very much the staff at LaFollette Court and Amedisys Hospice for their tender and loving care.

Services will be at the First Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, July 6th at 2 PM which will also be live-streamed. A brief graveside service will be at the United Fincastle Methodist Cemetery on July 7th at 10 AM. The Reverend David Maude will be officiating.

Friends may stop by Cross-Smith Funeral Home Tuesday, July 6, from 9 AM until 12 noon.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the First Presbyterian Church, Amedisys Hospice or the charity of your choice.

Condolences may be given online at

Arrangements by Cross-Smith Funeral Home