Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 11:34 AM.

The carriage, powered by Raymond’s trusty horse, Dorcas, provided his transportation to Chipley Chapel Primitive Baptist Church, where he worshiped when not attending his Mennonite Church. His humor was manifested at church meeting when asked; “Brother Raymond, how are you today?” His simple, and short answer, would be “Grouchy!” He had a beautiful tenor voice and participated in the congregational style singing at Chipley Chapel.

The farmers in the Orange Hill Community soon introduced the new resident to Max and Joyce Wells, the owners of the FRM Feed and Seed Store at that time. My brother and wife found Mr. Smoker to be friendly and honest in his dealing with them. He was always ready to tell a good story in his rather dry, comical manner. Max remembers “wearing shoes was an option for Raymond, in summer or winter,  while  working in the fields or shopping at Walmart.”

It was in FRM that your writer first met Raymond Smoker. Upon my inquiry as to how things were going with him, he jokingly told me “not so good–I may have to come up to the Courthouse and help you do a little judging.”  I invited him to come on, but warned that the payday would be small!  He then volunteered this story: “A street preacher was pouring his heart out on the sidewalk in a northern city one day, when someone asked him if he was being paid any money for his preaching.  His reply was only $2. The inquiring person commented ‘that seems like pretty poor pay!’ — with the preacher responding, ‘well, its pretty poor preaching!’”

Bill and Brenda Maphis have been friends of Raymond Smoker since his arrival here. Bill, the former Ranger at Falling Waters State Park, moved only a short distance from the park and set up Maphis Tree Farm upon retirement. He also added production of corn meal and making  home made cane syrup to his new venture. The Maphis Family depended on Smoker’s knowledge of both operations as they employed him in their business.

Brenda Maphis commented on  Raymond’s love of horses in telling the story that old timers in his home state quoted Raymond’s mother as explaining the reason for Raymond’s never getting married  was “that he never found a woman as pretty as a horse.”

The Maphis’ attended the funeral service for Raymond Smoker conducted at Red Oak Mennonite Church near Blountstown, Fla. His two surviving sisters, Thelma Grace Smith and Edna Ruth Miller, of Umatilla, Fla., nor the nieces and nephews, were able to attend the funeral. Many special friends, including Ben and Carol Yoder of Grand Ridge, Fla., were in attendance. Brenda reports the church building was “packed” with a host of friends. She said the beautiful singing was all a capella, as Raymond was accustomed to and would have desired.

She further explained that as the service concluded, the funeral tent was removed and all those in attendance, including children, were permitted to assist in covering the grave, which is an Amish Ritual, according to Brenda.

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