Kenneth J. Smith, Sr., the beloved son of Willie James and Dora Hopkins Smith, was introduced to the world in the windy city of Chicago, Illinois on April 1, 1960. He would later move to Montgomery at the age of 15.
Kenny J, as he was affectionately called by many, was a compassionate, fun-loving, outgoing man with a sincere desire to serve others—with the hope of leaving this world better than he found it. It was his belief that the “true neighbor” is one who will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. Kenny J’s commitment and involvement in the radio broadcast industry, civic, religious, and political life of the Montgomery community is legendary. In 2007, he ended a three-decades-long history on the air as one of the most outstanding and accomplished radio broadcast personalities in Central Alabama. The name “Kenny J” was well known from radio studios to special events’ music coordination to local high school dances as a guest DJ.
A cum laude graduate in Broadcast Journalism from his beloved Alabama State University, Kenny J was the consummate “Nupe.” A proud life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., he modeled its motto—Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor. As a Christian, he was further encouraged to nurture his enormous spirit in the richness of Christ. Even more, he would come to understand more fully, in time, that you must learn to start every single encounter with a foundational “yes”.
A friend to many, Kenny J was a father to only one—his namesake—Kenneth J. Smith, Jr. The encouragement that he offered to his son and countless others was but an avenue through which he touched a wide circle of people in and out of the Montgomery community. Cherished memories will also be shared by his two loving sisters, Shirley Bryant of Memphis, TN; and Glenda Faye Johnson of Chicago, IL.; a nephew, Rufus Bryant, Jr.; a niece, Kenyana Tasha Johnson, a devoted cousin, Billy (Brenda) Carter, Esq., a god-daughter, Claire Jones; god-sons, Michael A. Dillard and Evan M. Dillard; a god-mother, Dorothy L. Hatcher, a host of other special cousins and friends, lifelong friends, Tracy Larkin, Costee McNair, Alton Calhoun, and Ricky Arrington, and a very special devoted friend, Wanda Lewis Jones.
His family and friends will fondly recall his robust sense of humor and sheer delight especially when breaking bread among them. Today, he reigns with the God he has loved and served these many years. May flights of angels sing this gentle-loving giant to his deserved rest in the bosom of our great Savior.