Larkin I. Smith

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Larkin I. Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1989 – August 13, 1989
Preceded by Trent Lott
Succeeded by Gene Taylor
Personal details
Born (1944-06-26)June 26, 1944
Poplarville
Pearl River County
Mississippi, USA
Died August 13, 1989(1989-08-13) (aged 45)
Perry County, Mississippi
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sheila Smith
Residence Gulfport, Mississippi
Profession Law enforcement officer

Larkin Irvin Smith (June 26, 1944 – August 13, 1989) was an American politician from Mississippi.

Smith was born in Poplarville, Mississippi to Nona Orene Bounds and her husband Hezekiah K. Smith, Sr. Mr. Smith was named after his maternal grandfather Larkin Bounds and his maternal uncle Irvin E. Bounds. He served at various positions in the police forces in both Pearl River and then Harrison counties. He became the police chief in Gulfport and thereafter the Harrison County sheriff.

In 1988, Smith ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Mississippi's 5th congressional district in the southern portion of the state after eight-term incumbent Trent Lott gave up the seat to make a successful run for the Senate.

He defeated Democratic State Senator Gene Taylor and took office on January 3, 1989. However, Smith died on the night of August 13 in a plane crash in rural Perry County near Gulfport after returning from opening the Little League baseball "Dixie Youth World Series" in Hattiesburg. The bodies of Smith and pilot Chuck Vierling were not recovered until morning of the next day after a search in which rescuers had to bulldoze their way through the forest in which Smith's single-engine plane crashed. Smith's death was the second death in one week of a U.S. Representative in a plane crash. Representative Mickey Leland of Texas died in another plane crash in Ethiopia on August 7, 1989.

At the Dixie Youth World Series, two events occurred that would later take on ironic, tragic notes. Then-Mississippi Representative Sonny Montgomery of Meridian helped open the series along with Smith. As part of the opening festivities, a group of skydivers would parachute out of an airplane onto the playing field. Shortly afterward, Smith delivered a few remarks among which he joked "We're really glad to be here, but Sonny and I really wanted to sky dive in . . . Of course, if we had, you'd have been looking for us all night!"[1] And then afterward, as Montgomery would later recall "Our last conversation at the series was talking about the loss of Representative Leland, and I told Larkin that he should be careful in traveling and performing his duties."[2] Smith did not normally fly from Hattiesburg to Gulfport, but as he had attended a memorial service on the coast honoring victims of Hurricane Camille on the twentieth anniversary of the storm, he wished to reach Hattiesburg for the baseball event and felt pressed for time.

Taylor would succeed Smith in a special election held some two months after the crash. Taylor was reelected every two years until 2010, when he was defeated by Republican State Representative Steven Palazzo. Smith's widow, Sheila Smith, ran unsuccessfully against Taylor in 1990 for the seat.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Trent Lott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 5th congressional district

January 3, 1989 – August 13, 1989
Succeeded by
Gene Taylor

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hattiesburg American, August 14, 1989, page 3A
  2. ^ The Hattiesburg American, August 14, 1989, page 3A

External links[edit]