Elijah Hoke Smith, Jr.

St Johns County resident, Hoke Smith, passed away at the age of 68 from injuries sustained in a helicopter accident in Clay County on December 26, 2011.

Smith was born in Washington, Georgia on June 10, 1943, and was raised in Macon, Georgia. At age 17, he enrolled at Mercer University where he obtained his bachelor’s degree.

He served his country with distinction during two tours in Vietnam and returned a decorated veteran — having earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Upon his honorable discharge from the military, Hoke earned a Masters of Business Administration from the prestigious University of Chicago.

Hoke went on to leadership roles in the business community. In Jacksonville, Smith founded General Parcel Service, a ground transportation company that he took public.

In 1997, he founded SK Logistics, later SK Jets, with one aircraft. SK Jets relocated to the Northeast Florida Regional Airport at St Augustine where, under Smith’s guidance, it has grown to 40 employees, a fleet of seven jets, and two helicopters.

In 2004, Smith and his family moved to Palencia. He was elected and served the St Johns County community as Chairman of the Marshall Creek Community Development District.

Smith was an active parishioner and member of the finance committee of Cathedral Parish in St Augustine.

Hoke was a letterman athlete in high school, brave in battle, fair and focused in business, and dedicated to his family; who described him as “a man’s man”.

Hoke is survived by his wife of 50 years, Gayle; son, Derrick Smith of Green Cove Springs and his wife Denise; granddaughter Chloe Smith Lopez and her mother Isabelle Lopez of St. Augustine.

A Funeral mass will be celebrated 10:00 AM Saturday at Cathedral-Basilica of St Augustine, Rev. Fr. Tom Willis, Pastor officiating followed by committal services in San Lorenzo Cemetery.

A prayer service will be held 6:00 PM Friday at Craig Funeral Home in St. Augustine. Immediately following the prayer service, the family will receive friends at the funeral home until 8:00 PM.

Those wishing to contribute may do so by sending their donation in Hoke’s memory to Catholic Charities, P.O. Box 543, St. Augustine, FL 32085.

Craig Funeral Home, Crematory and Memorial Park is in charge of the arrangements. Visit their website www.craigfuneralhome.com for additional information.

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