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WILLIS SMITH was born in Norfolk, Va., December 19, 1887; at death of father, when 2 years of age, moved with his mother to North Carolina and attended the public schools in Elizabeth City; was graduated from Atlantic Collegiate Institute, Elizabeth City, N. C., in 1905, Trinity College (now Duke University), Durham, N. C., in 1910, and from the law school of Duke University in 1912; was admitted to the bar in 1912 and commenced the practice of law in Raleigh, N. C.; during the First World War served in the United States Army at Fort Monroe, Va.; inheritance-tax attorney of North Carolina, 1915–20; member of the State house of representatives, 1928–32, serving as speaker in 1931; member of commission preparing rules for Federal courts in North Carolina in 1933; delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Ill., in 1944; member of board of trustees of Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation; trustee of Duke University and chairman of the board from 1946 to 1953; observer Nuremburg Trials in 1946; United States delegate to the Interparliamentary Union in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1951, and served as chairman of the American delegation to the Interparliamentary Union in Bern, Switzerland, in 1952; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate on November 7, 1950, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of J. Melville Broughton and served from November 27, 1950, until his death in the naval hospital at Bethesda, Md., June 26, 1953; interment in Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh, N. C.
Proceedings in the Senate
FRIDAY, June 26, 1953. The Chaplain, Rev. Frederick Brown Harris, D. D., offered the following prayer:
Our Father God, in the abundance of Thy mercy, another day is added to the record of the lengthening years: For the morrow and its needs, we do not pray; for the day which now bathes us in its returning light, give us courage, give us wisdom, and set Thou a seal upon our lips lest any words of ours shall needlessly hurt or discourage some pilgrim by our side. As lovers and servants of this dear land of freedom, make us worthy of the past and equal to the present.
We come in the sorrow of a poignant sense of loss as we remember with admiration and gratitude the honored Member of this body whose useful, earthly life has so suddenly ended. We thank Thee that his gentleness made him great and that his sanctified wisdom and pure humanity made his radiant personality as a candle of the Lord. In this Chamber where he served with such distinction and integrity we remember this hour the unstinted service he rendered to his state and to his Nation, and all the adornment he brought to the noble profession of the law, to his church, and in extending the mighty influence and ministry of his alma mater. We remember with joy that for him party loyalty was ever but an altar of consecration in the greater temple of his undefiled patriotism as, at home and abroad, he served his Nation with patient courage, gentle courtesy, and constant devotion to every trust committed to his hands. Vouchsafe unto his stricken loved ones Thy tenderest mercies and the consolations of Thy sustaining grace, as they face this devastating loss in the loving family circle.