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“I am at peace, It is well with my soul”
Hollis Lee Smack, Sr.
Hollis Lee Smack, Sr. was born on Sunday, July 23, 1950 in Bridgeville, Delaware. Hollis was the youngest of two children born to the late Eva Mae Askins and Howard Cannon. The late Monroe L. Askins was whom he called, “dad”. Hollis departed this life peacefully and lovingly on Monday, May 1, 2023 at home, where he was surrounded by family and friends. He was 72 years old. Hollis always spoke of himself as an “old country boy”, with very loving parents, providing a loving childhood to him and his brother. His childhood nickname was “Bay”, which he was still called by some. As a child, Hollis had an entrepreneur spirit, selling candy for profit to kids at school. This eventually led him to becoming a successful entrepreneur later in life.
Hollis attended William C. Jason Comprehensive High School in Georgetown, Delaware, the first African-American Secondary School in Sussex County. He later transferred to Bridgeville High School, graduating in 1969. He was proud to be part of the Mustang Football Program, under the tutelage of coach, the late Ben Sirman, with whom both formed a deep relationship of friendship which lasted throughout the years. Hollis was team co-captain. He played in the Blue Gold All-Star Game and was selected to the All-Conference Team for three consecutive years. He proudly spoke of the Mustangs being undefeated for two consecutive seasons in 1966-67 (being the Henlopen Conference Champions) and only one lost game in 1968. Playing dual positions as offensive tackle and defensive guard, stating that he was always on the field and the only time that he was off, was at kickoff. Hollis truly loved the game of football.
After graduation, Hollis attended Delaware State College on a football scholarship, later deciding to enter the workplace at E. I. DuPont Company in Seaford, Delaware, where he was employed for 40 years, until retiring. He was as a Spinning Machine Operator, and later a Day Relief Supervisor. His time at DuPont wasn’t just a job, it was many good friends, sharing many great times. After his retirement, he worked as a bus-aide for R & M Buses in Bridgeville.
Hollis continued a 40 year career as a Football Official and was the first African-American official in the Henlopen Conference. He served as Vice-President on the Board of Directors, and a Signer, and was on the Scholarship Committee. Hollis was inducted in 2011 into the Delaware Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame, where he served as Chaplain and Co-chair of the Annual Crab Feast. In January of 2023, Hollis was awarded the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association Southern Official Lifetime Achievement Award for officiating. He has made an impact on youth and many others through commitment of service in the communities. He served through time and dedication to the game of football. His love of the game was to watch his beloved “Pittsburgh Steelers”. A die-hard fan: win, lose or tie; he waved the Terrible Towel proudly. Through his love of travel, he made the trek several times to Heinz Field, Latrobe Training Camp and the Pro-Football, Basketball and Baseball Halls-of-Fame.
During this time, Hollis was also an entrepreneur. He could be seen at little league games, car shows, events and festivals serving up “Smack’s Hot Dogs and Sausages”, with special sauce. He later purchased a box truck and concession trailer: “Smack’s Shack”. He traveled throughout Delaware and Maryland, serving his famous oyster and trout sandwiches. He was also committed to giving back abundantly throughout the community.
Hollis married Tanya Ricketts, his brown-eyed girl and forever birthday gift, as he would say, on July 24, 2009, after four years of dating. Many wonderful years were shared. The marriage was a gift from God. The union offered many blessings; both receiving a partner to share all that life had to offer. Gifts of hope, laughter, focus, seriousness, purpose, sensitivity and recognition of the beautiful and profound…..honoring the commitment, “Til death do us part”, with him transitioning peacefully being held within my arms: God’s gift.
Hollis was committed to his Christian faith: a member of Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church in Bridgeville, Delaware where he was instrumental in spearheading many projects through the years. He was awarded certificates of appreciation of generous and faithful service. He was a member of the Atmosphere of Praise Choir; a church trustee (Past President) and managed the cemetery for many years. He dedicated years of service to the Prince Hall Masons as a member of Morning Star Lodge #10 in Laurel, Delaware, a dutiful Master Mason, reaching the level of Worshipful Master. Hollis was a member of the East Coast Mother Truckers Van Club and Kiwanis International.
Hollis had many hobbies. He loved all sports, camping, traveling, building projects, and was always behind-the-scenes in helping his wife with the many events planned and hosted for their friends from “Evenings of Elegance, BBQ’s, community events, Garden Tea Socials, Wine & Cheese Tasting for friend, and so many joys they shared. Together through travel (within the States and Abroad), he had the opportunity to vacation in 37 of the 50 States, until his health limited travel. Cruises being of his favorite (unlimited food of course). In the past few years, he loved to sit in our gazebo; it was his haven. He loved to sit, watch and “supervise” me in the yard and gardening. He often said, “someone has to supervise, may as well be me!” Our life together was shared abundantly and lovingly. Remembering the best times, the laughter, the song.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Eva Mae Askins, Monroe Askins and Howard Cannon; two sisters; Martha Massey and Mary Massey. He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving wife, Tanya Ricketts-Smack of Bridgeville, Delaware; children, Hollis L. Smack, Jr. (Trista) of Newark, Delaware; Holly L. Smack of Bridgeville, Delaware; bonus children: Bruce E. Ricketts of Silver Spring, Maryland; Ryan Ricketts (Shanda) of Baltimore, Maryland; Grandchildren: Quincee Jackson, Javon Kilgoe, Lakira Smack-Williams, Tyaisha Smack and Zyrin Smack; great-grandchildren: Saniyah Kilgoe, Ava Kilgoe, and bonus great-grandchildren, Jayden Hurley and Sophia Hurley. Hollis also leaves to mourn his loss; brothers, Howard E. Smack (Joan) of Seaford, Delaware; Michael L. Cannon of Baltimore, Maryland, Gregory L. Cannon of Laurel, Delaware and Troy Cannon of Seaford, Delaware; brothers-in-law; Cedric Ricketts (Kimberly) of Melbourne, Florida and Kevin Ricketts (Sherita) of Seaford, Delaware; special partner/friend, Carlton Banks, special nephew and niece, Howard E. Smack, Jr. and Vonderlear Smack, and a host of nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.
“Love God, Neighbors,
Be Kind, Courteous and
Treat Others with Dignity and Respect”
Hollis L. Smack, Sr.
Hollis Lee Smack, Sr. was interviewed by Ryan B. Ricketts and the interview has been archived in the Earl S. Richardson Library at Morgan State University, which can be accessed through the library database.