After earning a Master of Music from the University of Victoria, Canada, in 1991, Smith went on the road internationally with some of the best known Big Bands: Guy Lombardo, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.
He also worked on cruise ships, many of which left from the Port of Miami. He liked South Florida so much that he decided to settle here in 1997, his mother said.
Two days after meeting with Palmetto’s principal, the month before school started, Smith had a job. He became a Boy Scout assistant troop leader and joined Kendall Methodist’s orchestra and brass ensemble.
“He’d been in jazz and was looking for a classical outlet,’’ said Thom Proctor, a French horn player who directs the two groups.
Smith lent his jazz sensibilities to a Dixieland-style arrangement of Just A Closer Walk With Thee, said Proctor. His trombone solo “brought the house down.’’
Despite his commitments — at school, with local bands, the Miami Wind Symphony and musical theatre — Smith remained “very loyal’’ to the church and always came to rehearsals, Proctor said.
Among the groups that Smith played with is the Mystery Tones, an R&B cover band made up mainly of UM professors and doctors. They organized a tribute concert at Palmetto on Sept. 20 that included the Marching Panthers, Boy Scouts from Troop 457, and the school’s color squad.
Despite recent surgery for tumors on his spine, Smith was strong that evening and had a great time, said Lisa Smith, a Gulliver Academy science teacher.
“So often, a tribute comes too late for the person being honored to enjoy it,’’ she said. “Paul loved it.’’
Wade, a UM sophomore and recent Eagle Scout, filled in for his dad that night with the Mystery Tones.
To play trombone and live with Paul Smith was “like having a lesson 24/7,’’ Wade said. “He’d hear something I was doing from the other end of the house and come in and work with me for a few minutes. It was kind of neat to have that.’’
Playing at the wedding with eight of the trombone choir’s 21 musicians “was fantastic,’’ he said. “Paul had always wanted to have a trombone choir at his wedding. It’s a very unique thing and it was his dream.’’
In addition to his wife, son and mother, Paul Smith is survived by his brother David and sister Caitlyn. Visitation is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Friday at Stanfill Funeral Home, 10545 S. Dixie Hwy. Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Kendall United Methodist Church, 7600 SW 104th St.
Smith will be buried with a trombone mouthpiece and a teddy bear from his collection, Lisa Smith said. He’ll wear his wedding suit, with his “father of an Eagle Scout’’ pin affixed to the lapel.
The family welcomes donations in Smith's memory to the Paul J. Smith Foundation, 16601 SW 153rd Place, Miami, FL 33187.