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LEGACY: Farewell Coach Lacey Smith Jr.

Northside High School had an also-ran football team before Lacey Smith Jr. took over, turning it into a force and endearing himself to many.

Born Aug. 4, 1944 as the first of five children, Mr. Lacey died Dec. 31, 2021. Homegoing services were held on January 15 at Mount Vernon Baptist-Church-Westwood, where he long had been an active member.

Mr. Lacey attended the Foote Homes Kindergarten, which prepared him for Leath Elementary School. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School (1962), where the football coach influenced him to become a better student in pursuit of going to college.

Mr. Lacey attended Arkansas AM&N in Pinebluff and Tennessee State University in Nashville. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Mississippi Industrial College, later earning a master’s degree at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. After beginning his teaching career in 1966, Mr. Lacey taught social studies, such as American history and economics in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.

At Messick High School in Memphis, he served as an assistant football coach. That stint yielded a recommendation to be the head football coach at Northside, which he transformed into a winning program. He served as the Memphis Interscholastic Athletic Association football chairman and was named the association’s Coach of the Year in 1976. In 1978, he coached his team to the Music City Bowl.

Mr. Lacey taught life lessons to students at Messick, Northside, Raleigh-Egypt, Melrose, Hillcrest and Mitchell until he retired in 2009.

Mr. Lacey’s high school sweetheart was Cathelia Barr. They married in 1971 and had three children.

This selection of photos from the obituary program for Lacey Smith Jr. reflects cherished memories from his 77-year journey. (Photos: Tyrone P. Easley)


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