David Van Noy Smith, Sr., of Rockville, passed away on October 25, 2021 following a brief illness. Van was born on August 20, 1931 in Charleston, South Carolina to Gadsden and Margaret Robertson Smith. He enjoyed an idyllic small town childhood in Summerville with summers at the family's home on Folly Beach.
Van graduated from Summerville High School in 1950 and the University of South Carolina in 1955. He went on to serve as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Marana Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ until the close of the Korean War.
Van was introduced to a younger Ann Welch Ellis at her grandmother's home in Riverland Terrace in the 1940's. They were later reacquainted when she was a student at Ashley Hall. Following a two year courtship, Ann and Van married in 1957 at Old St. Andrews Episcopal Church with a reception at the Ft. Sumter Hotel, thus beginning a wonderful and loving 64 year marriage. Ann and Van raised their children at homes on the Ashley River and later Maybank Highway, settling in the village of Rockville in the 1990's. They delighted in beach life on the early, undeveloped Kiawah Island as well as time with other families at Rice Hope Plantation on the Santee River.
Van joined his father at the family business, Van-Smith Building Material Co. and Van-Smith Concrete in 1956. The company was founded by Van's grandfather and a partner in 1894 as Southeastern Lime and Cement Co., and reorganized to Van Smith Building Material Co. in 1914. Van began his tenure running the concrete plant and materials warehouse off of Cosgrove Avenue. Following a fire at the 276 East Bay Street Headquarters, he oversaw the construction of the new building, which stands today. Van became President of Van-Smith Co. in 1968 and expanded the company as Charleston grew, becoming the city's leading concrete products businesses with its iconic red and white trucks working at construction sites across the tri-county area. During his time with the company, Van served as President of the Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association.
Apart from his success in the concrete industry, Van was an entrepreneur at heart. He founded many local businesses including Smith and Smith, Van Smith Co. Lumber, and Port City Glass. He and Ann established Sea Horse Stables on John's Island in the 1980's and it became a hub for equestrian activity with an extensive horseback riding and boarding program. His real estate investments were far and wide across the county and included the development of Ann's family's Ellis Oaks property on James Island.
In addition to his work in these businesses, Van was active in the Charleston community serving for 33 years on the Board of Directors of First Federal Bank, and as Chairman of the Board for over a decade. Van was a member of many local organizations including the Sea Island Yacht Club, the Carolina Yacht Club, Yeamans Hall Club, New England Society, St. Andrews Society, Society of Colonial Wars, and St. Cecelia Society.
Among Van's outdoor pursuits, sailing was a favorite. In the 1980's he enlisted Mark Bayne to build a classic Sea Island One Design sailboat, the Privateer. With this boat, other sailors became interested and the fleet grew, reviving the historic class in local regattas. Van and Ann sponsor the annual Daniel Ellis trophy for the Sea Island One Design class in honor of her father.
Following his semi-retirement, Van and Ann spent the summer months at their wharf side home on Nantucket Island, MA, meeting new friends and partaking in the island's activities such as scalloping, fishing and the special crafts of scrimshaw and woven Nantucket baskets. On Nantucket, Van studied with Karl and Susan Ottison to learn basketmaking, and proudly gifted his work to special people in his life. Van also had a passion for hand carved bird decoys, assembling a large collection of Early American antique birds. In later years, he took up carving his own birds and was content to sit on his porch at Rockville or in Nantucket, carving as he watched activity on the water.
Van's devotion to his wife and family was paramount. He and Ann were true partners in life and frequently entertained a wide group of friends from throughout the US. Van was happiest hosting and holding court for family and friends of all ages at the annual Rockville Regatta where he welcomed guests - friends and strangers - into his home with laughter and a cold drink.
In addition to his beloved wife, Ann Ellis Smith, Van is survived by his three children, Ann Swinton Ellis Smith (Jim Rhode), David Van Noy Smith, Jr. (Lauren) and Elise Gadsden Smith Brown (David), all of Charleston as well as eight grandchildren, Ann Swinton Smith FitzGerald, David Van Noy Smith, III (Mary Beth), Kathleen Crawford Smith, Margaret Hamilton Gadsden FitzGerald, Frank Warner Brumley Smith, Claude Burdell FitzGerald, Jr., Elise Seabrook Rivers Brown and Harriet Hay Ellis Brown. He was predeceased by his parents, a sister, Caroline Smith Hassell, brother, Gadsden Smith, Jr., and daughter in law, Leigh Brumley Smith.
The family will receive friends at a Visitation at their home at 2483 Sea Island Yacht Club Road, Rockville, on Thursday, October 28, 2021 from 3:00-6:00PM A funeral service will be held Friday, October 29, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. in First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, 53 Meeting Street.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Rockville Presbyterian Church, 2479 Sea Island Yacht Club Rd, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487; First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, 53 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401; Danny and Ron's Rescue P.O. Box 604 Camden, SC 29201, or to the charity of one's choice.