J. Murray Smoot, 89, pastor, missionary

September 03, 2006

Dr. J. Murray Smoot, who had been pastor of a Towson Presbyterian church for more than three decades and later was active in missionary work, died of heart failure Aug. 27 at Oak Crest Village in Parkville, where he lived for the past 11 years. He was 89.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Forest Park, he was a 1935 Forest Park High School graduate and earned a degree at Wheaton College in Illinois. He attended Dallas Theological Seminary and earned his doctorate from St. Mary's Seminary and University.

Dr. Smoot was ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia in 1948. He transferred to the Presbytery of Baltimore in 1949 and was the moderator of the presbytery in 1962.

He served Central Presbyterian Church from 1949 to 1983. Family members said he oversaw construction of its York Road building and initially held services in the manse while the church complex was being built.

Family members said that his affection for music led him to arrange joint concerts with his church musicians and sections of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

After retiring from Central Presbyterian in 1983, Dr. Smoot served churches in Washington state, Bangladesh and Japan. He also preached in Mexico, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Africa, Scotland and Pakistan.

Services were held yesterday in Towson.

His wife of 59 years, the former Doris Ikena, died in 2001.

Survivors include three sons, John Murray "Jack" Smoot Jr. of New York City, James Robert Smoot of Roanoke, Va., and Jonathan Frederick Smoot of Alexandria, Va.; two daughters, Janette Turnbaugh of Towson and Dorothy Jeanne Watson of Roanoke; two sisters, Laura G. Bell and Jean Smoot, both of Towson; nine grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

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