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Proceedings in the House
FRIDAY, June 26, 1953. A message from the Senate, by Mr. Ast, one of its clerks, announced that the Senate had passed the following resolution (S. Res. 122):
Resolved, That the Senate has heard with profound sorrow and deep regret the announcement of the death of Hon. WILLIS SMITH, late a Senator from the State of North Carolina.
Resolved, That the President of the Senate and 25 Senators, the latter to be appointed by the Presiding Officer of the Senate, be constituted a committee to attend the funeral of the deceased.
Resolved, That the Secretary communicate these resolutions to the House of Representatives and transmit a copy thereof to the family of the deceased.
Resolved, That, as a further mark of respect to the memory of the deceased, the Senate do now adjourn until 10 o'clock antemeridian tomorrow.
Mr. COOLEY. Mr. Speaker, I have a very sad message for Members of the House. In the quiet hours of the morning, at the Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, my most distinguished constituent passed away. The great soul of the junior Senator from North Carolina, Hon. WILLIS SMITH, winged its way beyond the twilight's purple vale to dwell in that blessed land behind the stars. His sudden death reminds us that "the wings of man's life are plumed with the feathers of death."
A few short hours ago he lived and loved and labored in the strength and vigor of health. By the magnificence of his life and the accomplishments of his labors he has endeared himself to a multitude of friends in this and in other lands. Now in the golden hour of his great life and at the very pinnacle of his career, he has been taken from us. Our State has sustained a great loss and our Nation has lost a great citizen. The dignity of truth and the majesty of justice directed the course of his life. He was courageous and incorruptible and ever fearless in the performance of every public trust. In every one of his assignments he has acquitted himself ably and well and with honor and distinction. From an humble beginning he rose to the heights of his ancient profession and was elected president of the American Bar Association. In this assignment he served with outstanding ability; he also served in the legislature of his native State and became speaker of the house of representatives and then gracefully retired to the practice of law and became the senior member of one of the leading law firms of our State. As a distinguished Member of the United States Senate, he has applied himself diligently, honestly, and courageously to the discharge of all of the duties of that high position. No one can ever say that he has ever yielded to the insidious appeals of political pressure. He was a man of convictions. He was fair and forthright and made up his own mind. When he believed that he was right, he stood steadfast and true to the convictions of his own conscience. He was devoted to the traditions of our Government, and in public office he has rendered a magnificent public service. The people of our Commonwealth owe him a debt of gratitude.
Mr. Speaker, I know that I speak the sentiments of all of the Members of the North Carolina delegation in Congress when I say that the news we received this morning was distressing and heartbreaking indeed. On behalf of my colleagues and from the depths of my own heart, I express our tenderest sympathies to his lovely wife, Dollie, to his charming daughter, and to his fine and manly sons, and to all of the members of the family circle. May God bless them and keep them, and may the divine light of Heaven guide and direct them in this their greatest hour of sorrow. They may be comforted by the thought that their loved one was a great citizen and a distinguished statesman and a true American in the real sense and meaning of that word.
Mr. DURHAM. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. COOLEY. I yield to the gentleman from North Carolina.
Mr. DURHAM. Mr. Speaker, we are again reminded of the price one pays for public life. In the past 5 years 5 men have come from our State to serve in the Senate. Three of those have passed away in that period. With the coming of the next Senator from North Carolina there will have been 6 men from our State to serve in that body in the space of 6 years. It is proof of the heavy responsibility one carries here in Congress during this critical period of our history. We are reminded today, when we look at WILLIS SMITH'S life, what can happen here in America in the way of climbing to a pinnacle of prominence. WILLIS SMITH was an orphan boy. He rose to prominence through public life in his own State and has demonstrated here in the halls of that great deliberative body at the other end of the Capitol that he was well qualified to serve his state and Nation. As has been said by my colleague, he was a man of strong convictions, one who did not deter when he once took a position.
I extend to his wife and daughter and his sons my deepest love and sympathy. We will miss him very much here in the Halls of Congress. I have lost a personal friend. May God bless his good wife.
Mr. COOLEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Bonner).
Mr. BONNER. Mr. Speaker, it can truly be said of WILLIS SMITH that he was a great American statesman. He was anchored strong and fast to the Constitution of this great country. To know him was to admire him. I join in the splendid remarks that have been made by my distinguished colleague, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Cooley), in the tribute he paid to Senator SMITH and I, too, express my deep sympathy to the Senator's family.
Mr. COOLEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jonas).
Mr. JONAS of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I should like, with the permission of my friend and colleague, to associate myself in the remarks he has made on this sad occasion. I, too, have known WILLIS SMITH for many years, and while we were affiliated with different political parties, both of us believed in the same principles. I do not think WILLIS SMITH ever yielded to political expediency in his life. He courageously fought for the things that he believed in.
I join with my colleague in the beautiful tribute that has been paid by him this afternoon to the memory of our departed friend. I should like also to join in expressing my sincere condolences to the members of the family, the wife he leaves behind, and his lovely daughter and his fine sons in this hour of their deep bereavement. They have lost a husband and a father, but North Carolina has lost one of her noble sons and this country one of its great men.
Mr. COOLEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Shuford).
Mr. SHUFORD. Mr. Speaker, the news of the sudden death of the junior Senator of North Carolina, Hon. WILLIS SMITH, has been a great shock to me. He was beloved in his native State, and respected and honored by his colleagues and associates. He was a real friend of mine and his passing to the great beyond leaves a vacancy that cannot be filled.
I have long known WILLIS SMITH. In public life he was courageous and spoke forth his convictions with force and clarity.
In private life he was a devoted husband and father, loyal and unselfish with his friends, and understanding of the rights of his fellowman. Truly he was a Christian.
We will miss WILLIS SMITH. Our lives have been enriched by our association with him. My deepest sympathy goes out to his lovely wife and fine children.