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Opinion | Alabama’s un-sung pro-family hero

Alabama is one of the most conservative states in America when you look at our statewide votes on the marriage and human life constitutional amendments, and now the Human Life Protection Act. Embedded in the strong infrastructure of all of these effective statewide movements in the state, is a quiet yet strong unwavering pillar, Eunie Smith. When I write about economic, social, moral and constitutional conservatives, Eunie Smith for five decades has been our Alabama role model for across the board conservatism. She always volunteered her time and personally invested immeasurable financial contributions for the noblest of missions.

Eunie has served on the National Eagle Forum Board since the Board’s inception in 1975 and as First Vice President since 1996, on Phyllis Schlafly’s recommendation. She is a cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University, where she was Vice-President of the Women’s Student Government Association. Her volunteer activities in Alabama began with the Junior League, other service organizations, her church, and her children’s schools. As President of Pro-America (1970), she invited Phyllis Schlafly to speak in Birmingham. In 1972, Eunie co-founded Alabama Stop ERA, which she chaired for its 10-year existence. She was a founder of Eagle Forum of Alabama (1976) and is its longest serving President. She was President of the Womens’ Committee of 100 for Birmingham. She was Chairman of the Ethics and Religious Committee (2011) of the Southern Baptist Convention. She currently serves as a member of the Alabama Supreme Court Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics (2008-2016). She is the recipient of numerous awards for her lifetime of volunteer service, including a 1992 Joint Resolution by the Alabama Legislature “for outstanding service in support or pro-family and pro-life causes”. In 2016, she received the “Salt and Light” Award from ALCAP (Alabama Citizens Action Program). Eunie is the widow of former U.S. Congressman Albert Lee Smith, Jr., the mother of three and grandmother of six. She was singularly honored by Phyllis Schlafly in 2014 with the Eagle Forum Homemaker of the Year Award.

We met Eunie about forty years ago, when we first started in pro-life work. Eunie had already been active with Eagle Forum about a decade ahead of our introduction. I had the pleasure of working with her husband Albert Lee Smith (he too was a champion for conservative causes) on the Alabama Republican Executive Committee. I can remember as if it was yesterday, August 12, 1997, when the phone rang and it was Eunie asking for our prayer for Albert Lee who fell on a ladder cleaning out his gutters. You have to understand, these folks are family, so my wife Deborah and I drove at Mach I to UAB to be with Eunie. When we got off the elevator, Eunie and her children were heading into the room to say goodbye to Albert Lee who was on a ventilator. A few minutes later, our dear friend Eunie emerged; shaken, disturbed, but ever so strong in her faith and trust in God for taking her husband home to heaven at the prime of his life. Likewise, when we lost our son Micah, Eunie was immediately in Montgomery at our home giving us warm words of love and encouragement.

As you may recall, I worked for two of Alabama’s Republican Governors, Hunt & James. Eunie’s impeccable reputation with both of these Governors was at the highest level. If she called, they stopped what they were doing to talk to Eunie, because they knew she did not call, unless it was very urgent. Eunie was NEVER calling about anything personal; she was great counsel for these governors on a wide range of issues impacting the state. Eunie always did her exhaustive research, had her facts together and her positions were always sound and substantive. Working right in the office suite with the Governor, from experience I know firsthand there are certain folks that may call the Governor, where all of the staff know this call goes to priority one, Eunie was one of those people. I was in the Capitol early one morning and Governor James called me. He overnighted in Dothan for an economic development announcement and was furious after reading the Dothan Eagle about the Superintendent of Education sending out a memo to all School Principals. The memo instructed them to not allow any Christmas Programs or the singing of Christmas Carols. He instructed me to get the press team en route to Dothan when they got to the capitol. He was holding a press conference at the hotel after the official ribbon cutting. I asked him did he want any local citizens to attend, he said yes. I made one call to Eunie in Birmingham and she was able to assemble over three hundred people in a matter of two hours for a standing room only crowd at this local hotel. As a side note, prior to even the news conference, the Superintendent had reversed his order.

In life, it is rare to meet someone who is authentically humble, sound, steadfast, extraordinary, principled, dedicated, devoted, laser focused, effective, heartwarming and just plain out saintly. Mrs. Eunie Smith, President of Eagle Forum of Alabama meets and exceeds these aforementioned attributes. As we pan across the landscape of life, there is no question; one of the finest Christian women we have ever met is Eunie Smith.

My wife Deborah and I often say and have said for years, Eunie can do no wrong. Eunie, as a Southern Baptist will probably one day be recognized by Rome as a saint.

Moms and dads, if you are raising your daughters and want to point them to a role model here on earth, your search is over.

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John W. Giles is former President of the Christian Coalition of Alabama. He served as Small Business Advocate for the State of Alabama during Governor Guy Hunt's Administration. He was also a member of Governor Fob James Cabinet.

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