University community honors life of Bobby J. Smith, Jr.


Bobby "B.J." Smith, Jr. - Photo courtesy of Smith Family

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (October 1, 2013) — In a memorial sprinkled with tears and laughter, fellow students and friends reminded the Tuskegee community to “smile for B.J.” Hundreds gathered in the University Chapel today to pay tribute to the memory and life of student Bobby J. Smith, Jr., who was affectionately known as B.J. to friends and family. 

Smith, 21, was fatally wounded Sept. 28 when a shooting occurred at a block party in the City of Tuskegee. The native of Mabelton, Ga., played for the university’s tennis team and was the father of an infant son. 

During the memorial, Kyle Spencer, Student Government Association president, said Smith was a friend who could always see the positives in a situation, loved to make people laugh, and was ambitious about his future. 

“B.J. was a guy who dreamed big,” Spencer said of the senior finance major. “He always talked to me about making it to Wall Street and how he and I were going to fly to Fashion Week in Milan.”

Memory to remain at Tuskegee

Student Lauren Bales has known Smith since 8th grade. She remembered Smith as her protector throughout the years and an influence for everyone around him.

“He just touched so many people here,” Bales told the audience. “Keep your head up, smile for B.J. and stay strong.”

Faculty and administration offered prayers and words of comfort for Smith’s family members in attendance and grieving students. Tejinder Sara, dean of the Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science, said the building’s halls would seem a little quieter without Smith’s laughter and smiles, but the university community should use this time of woe to draw closer.

“Use this occasion to expand our moral compass,” Sara advised. “To listen to each other more carefully.”

Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon said the institution is determined to work at maintaining the positive spirit of the university and city despite the recent shooting. He also announced that a scholarship in Smith’s name is being established and the university is planning to offer a certificate training program for emergency technicians. 

“So, (Bobby’s) memory will remain at Tuskegee University in perpetuity,” Rochon said. 

Lauren Bales

Tejinder Sara, dean of the Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science.

Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon

© 2013 Tuskegee University

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