“The Most Humble & Faithful Worker We Know”: Meet Mr. Eugene Smith

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Why would we dedicate Every Waking Hour to Mr. Eugene Smith? Because, he’s the most humble and faithful worker we know.  

Mr. Eugene will turn 90 years old this September. Serving on the janitorial staff at Southeastern for now 36 years is, believe it or not, his second career. After the furniture store where he’d worked for many years went out of business, Mr. Eugene applied at SEBTS; we have never been the same.  

We dare say Mr. Eugene is the godliest person on campus. While Southeastern is honored to employ beloved faculty and selfless staff, it is 36 years of faithfulness and gratitude that sets Mr. Eugene apart. He has emptied garbage cans and rolled up water hoses at Southeastern longer than we’ve been alive, and no one recalls hearing the first whine or whence from him. He is a model of humility, and he beautifully shows the face of Christ at work each day.  In short, Mr. Eugene is who we want to be when we grow up.

Mr. Eugene is who we want to be when we grow up.

We hope the video interview and article below help you get to know Mr. Eugene better.

We’d Be a Mess Without Him – Meet Mr. Eugene.

His face, familiar. His smile, sincere. His gentle spirit, evident to all he meets. Without his diligence, Southeastern would surely be a mess.

Who is he? Well, he’s Mr. Eugene, of course.

Eugene Smith, affectionately referred to campus-wide as Mr. Eugene, joined the Southeastern family in 1980 as part of the facilities team. His first ten years at Southeastern were spent maintaining Stealey Hall and Appleby as a custodian. Today, the central way he serves Southeastern is by taking care of the recycling products in the offices around campus.

“I’ve seen a lot of change,” said Mr. Eugene, reflecting on his 35 years at Southeastern. “But it’s been for the good, improving over the years.”

Mr. Eugene was born and raised on farm land in Rolesville, North Carolina. He and his wife had two children, and he laughingly admits that he has so many grandchildren and great grandchildren that he can hardly keep track.

At 88 years old, Mr. Eugene shares that his time working at Southeastern has significantly strengthened his faith. “I’ve heard a lot of speakers, interesting speakers,” relayed Mr. Eugene. “And they was absolutely good.”

MrEugene with sign

Mr. Eugene at his designated parking space.

Coming from many years of experience, his word of advice for students was simple but essential: “Always believe in God.”

When asked about what keeps him going each day on the job, Mr. Eugene quickly replied that it’s the people — the staff, students, co-workers and everyone else on campus. He loves getting to hear their stories and learn about all the places they have been. He says it “helps keep your eyes open.”

Mr. Eugene shared that one of the hardest parts of his job over the years was hauling weighty cases of paper up the stairs to offices around campus. “Oh my gosh, that was pretty rough,” he said, laughing aloud as he remembered. “Especially with the elevator being out, too!”

As he looks to the future, Mr. Eugene asks that we would pray for continued “health and strength,” that he “may keep on enduring.”

parking signRecently, as a result of his endurance thus far, Mr. Eugene was honored with a unique gift. He received his very own parking space, a front row spot reserved especially for him.

“I don’t see how in the world they gave me a parking spot like that,” Mr. Eugene wondered. “But I was so happy, ya know, so pleased to get something like that.”

Mr. Eugene, with his sweet demeanor and proven diligence, is just one of many individuals who serve Southeastern faithfully, and often times unnoticed. Would you thank him and others like him for their hard work? Without them, this place truly would be a mess.

This feature story was originally posted at Around Southeastern.

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Benjamin Quinn

Associate Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture

Dr. Quinn is an Associate Professor of Theology and History of Ideas. He also serves as the Associate Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture. He is the author of Christ, the Way: Augustine's Theology of Wisdom (2022), Walking in God's Wisdom (2021), and the co-author of Every Waking Hour (2016).

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