Eric Martin Smith was born November 4, 1961 to Shelia Ann Smith and John Brazley, in Harvey, Illinois. Eric graduated from Thornton High School on June 4, 1980. He then enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was stationed at RAF Bentwaters near Woodgridge, Suffolk in England. He successfully completed an Air Base Ground Defense conducted by US Army Special Forces on November 4, 1983 (his 22nd birthday). He then went to Ramstein Air Force Base in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany, for most of his career. He became a staff sergeant on December 1, 1986 while at Ramstein. In 1991, he was relocated to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he remained until August 31, 1995, the end of his military career.
Eric always had a love for horticulture and began a new career. In the fall of 1995 he became the head of the Garden Center at Lowe's Home Improvement in Lafayette. He built rapport with quite a few customers that became lifelong friends. He then, was offered in 2000, a position with Lorraine Billeud at Billeud's Horticulture as a Landscape Horticulturist & Supervisor of Garden Maintenance. Eric found great comfort in his position and worked there until 2015. Eric had a love for growing plants and landscaping, which transformed the spaces he touched. Anyone who knew him also learned of his love for political science and history. He was like a walking encyclopedia and could provide information on any president chosen as a topic of choice. Maybe it was the irony of being born on election day. Eric was truly a good kind spirit who never had a negative opinion of anyone. He taught us all to cherish life and the people in it, for it is truly a precious thing. One of his last quotes, "Today let's work towards filling our lives with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation, kindness, gentleness and love for others." Eric worked diligently to improve life for him and his fellow veterans at the VA Hospital in Alexandria, LA in his final years. He lead a program which allowed the veterans to plant fruit and vegetables in a garden on the property. He was also working to secure a contract for Wifi for the hospital, which was a big topic of discussion and a huge win for patients and staff alike. Eric was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015. He was told that he would not live more than 18 months. He fought for nearly 4 years and ultimately sucuumed to cancer early on Tuesday morning, February 19, 2019. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Chester and Ruby Smith, paternal grandparents, William and Mattie Brazley and father, John Brazley Sr. He is mourned by: his mother, Shelia Phillips and stepfather, Joseph Phillips, of Salt Lake City, UT; his stepmother, Sandra Kitchens, of Florence, MS; his brother, John Brazley, Jr of Nashville, TN, and his children Cortez Brazley, John Brazley III & Jonathan Brazley; his sister Tara Radford and her husband Reginald Radford, of Florence, MS and their daughter Carmen Radford; his brother Dante Brazley and his wife Shonda Brazley, of Douglasville, GA and their children, Tyra Brazley, Dante Brazley Jr, Donovan Brazley & Devan Brazley; his sister Melanie Phillips of Salt Lake City, UT and her children Marley Richardson, Michael Eric Richardson & Madison Amos and a host of dear friends and extended family. A family service will be held, Friday, March 1, 2019 at Robinson Family Mortuary in Pineville, LA and will be followed by a military burial in Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Leesville, LA. per his wishes.