LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Former businessman and life long lake area resident, Isaac "Snowball" Smith, celebrated his 100th birthday on January 11th, 2011.
Smith is a World War II veteran who established three different businesses in Lake Charles upon his honorable discharge. These businesses include Snowball Used Auto Parts along with Bessie's Cafe on Opelousas Street.
"I didn't think this day would ever come," said Smith. "None of my brothers and sisters lived to be that old and I didn't think I would either."
On his birthday, Smith recollected his last 100 years on earth and the day he moved to Lake Charles.
"I came to Lake Charles in 1940," said Smith. "I was about 30 years old at the time. I was transferred here from Beaumont to do saw milling."
Shortly after moving to Lake Charles, Smith joined the Army and served in World War II. When Smith moved back on an honorable discharge, the veteran decided to start his own auto business.
"He was the first African American to own a service station here," said Cynthia Charles, Smith's granddaughter.
Snowball's Used Auto Parts was Smith's most thriving business that remained open on Opelousas Street for 60 years.
"I didn't get rich, but I made a good living," said Smith.
Smith adds that the true riches of life are found in scripture and faith.
"The only thing I can tell them is stick with the Lord," said Smith. "I've done the best I could. I've made mistakes, but I've stayed with the Lord.
Smith's grandchildren recognize how much stronger his spirituality has made him through the years.
"God is first in his life and he just takes care of himself and treats everyone good," said Charles. "Through him I've learned to trust in God and I know the importance of family."
A family is preparing a 100th birthday celebration for Smith. The community event is scheduled for Saturday, January 15th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Zion Tabernacle Baptist Church.