Sterling Leon Smith was born in Washington, DC on December 26, 1952 to Julius Leon Smith and Madeline Anna Beckwith Smith. He was the eldest of three children born to this union. Sterling died exactly 66 years later on his birthday December 26, 2018. He did not suffer; he passed on to be with the Lord sitting in his easy chair, watching television, a plate of food within his reach.
He attended Monroe Elementary School and Banneker Junior High School in Washington, DC. He graduated from Northwestern High School in Prince Georges County Maryland.
Shortly after graduation, Sterling enlisted in the United States Army where he was trained to be a medic. He wrote home often detailing his experiences at Ft. Sam Houston in Texas. Sterling explained that armadillos were as abundant in Texas as squirrels are in our area. When he went to Germany, Sterling’s letters talked about German beer and French fries with mayonnaise. Sterling went into the army but through his letters, his family went with him. He also became acquainted with a group of young men who would be his dearest, closest, lifelong friends.
Sterling married Vivian Yugiri Strong on January 1, 1982. To their union were born two children: Mitchell Malik and Shelley Antoinette. From that point on, Sterling’s priority was his family. He worked long and hard at the U.S. Postal Service sometimes putting in 10 hours per day. When he retired in 2014, Sterling had worked a total of 44 years.
Sterling’s second love, after his family, was photography. He began shooting pictures in his early 20s and continued on into his 60s. Sometimes the subjects were his family and friends. Sterling spent a period of time shooting pictures of our national monuments and selling the photographs to postcard companies. He shot pictures of nature, the street after a fresh snowfall, fall foliage, the rushing water in Great Falls, the Baltimore Harbor, the ferris wheel at National Harbor, a valley at Shenandoah, deer walking across the street near Luray Caverns or something as simple as how incense smoke curls around a lamp. It was his true artistic talent.
Sterling leaves to cherish his memory his father Julius Smith, his son Mitchell Smith, his daughter Shelley Smith, his sister Regina Smith, his nephew Nkosi Dickerson, and his companion Mae Gaines. He is also survived by four uncles; Benjamin Smith (Mercedes), Francis Smith (Barbara), William Dyson Sr. (Delia), and Charles Beckwith, many cousins and other loving family and friends.