The Reverend Alec Smith – 1929~2023
The Reverend Alec Smith former Vicar of St Thomas’, Douglas, died on 16 July 2023, aged 94. He had been admitted to the Coronary Care Unit at Broad Green a few days earlier.
May the soul of this faithful priest rest in peace, and may he rise in glory.
Alec was ordained in 1954 and served in the dioceses of Gloucester, Chichester and Salisbury. He was always innovative and willing to try anything; he helped raise the money to pay for the restoration of his New Forest church by growing potatoes and another parish was supported on the back of Christmas tree sales.
He grew up during the Second World War, was a member of the Army Cadets and later did his own National Service in the Gloucestershire Regiment where he served in both Jamaica and Belize. With this military background it was not surprising that he eventually served in the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department for just under twenty years. On the Isle of Man, he exercised a continuing ministry as chaplain to the Royal British Legion.
Music was always important to Alec. As a boy he sang in the choir, learnt to play the organ and was briefly an apprentice organ builder. Occasionally his military and musical interests came together such as when he accidentally let off a thunderflash under a piano. More sedately he was organ advisor to this diocese, a member of the Diocesan Advisory Committee and continued to enjoy singing with Voces Insulae.
Alec’s musical background and strong pastoral skills made him an obvious choice to serve as the Actors’ Church Union Chaplain with special responsibility for those working at The Gaiety Theatre. He and his wife Jean offered hospitality from their home and provided much-needed care to those often away from home for the first time.
In retirement Alec covered many interregnums and vacancies and was honoured to receive the Royal Maundy in 2011. His many friends speak of how they shall remember him with admiration, affection, gratitude and above all with delight.
Following a private funeral, details will be forthcoming for a memorial service in October. The Bishop invites us to give thanks for Alec’s life and ministry, and to commend his faithful soul to Almighty God, there to rest alongside his beloved Jean. The Bishop offers his own personal sympathy to Alec’s family and close friends, and is particularly grateful to Mervin Stokes MBE for input to this obituary.
Deo Gratias: Thanks be to God.