John Wesley Smalls

John Wesley Smalls, son of the late Victoria Smalls Mack, was born August 27, 1931 and entered eternal rest on Nov. 14, 2021.

John was raised by his mother, Victoria and grandparents, Jane and Isaac Smalls in Harleyville, S.C. and Cross, S.C. He was educated at Central High School in Cross.

John’s first employment was at the Atomic Energy Commission at Aiken, S.C. He was drafted in 1953 in the U.S. Army where he took basic training at Fort Eustis, Va.; Advanced Individual Training at Fort Story, Va. and was assigned to the Transportation Corps at Fort Eustis. He had tours of duty at Camp Leroy Johnson, La.; Point Barrow, Alaska; and three tours in Vietnam.

Most of his 27 years of active service was spent as the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the Rigging Loft of the Marine Rail Division, U.S. Transportation Corps, Fort Eustis where he taught Marlinspike Seamanship to student officers and enlisted soldiers in Advanced Individual Training.

John retired from active duty in 1980 and accompanied his wife, Connie Smalls, who was active duty at the time, to Wuerzburg, Germany. He worked in civil service as the Leighton Barracks commissary warehouse manager, and upon his return to Virginia, he resumed his instructor position as a civil servant in the Marine Rail Division at Fort Eustis where he retired for a second time in 1997.

He was a member of the American Legion Post 368 and the Denbigh NCO Retiree Club. He also was an usher and member of the Men’s Ministry at the Fort Eustis Regimental Chapel.

John was preceded in death by his mother, grandparents and daughter, Bernice Smalls; his brother, Samuel Smalls; and his sisters, Dorothy Corine Anderson, Rosa Lee Williams and Geneva Wright.

He is survived by his wife, Connie; sons: James Smalls, Joseph Lunich (Julie), John Adams Jr., Isaiah Smalls (Ashley) and Steven Smalls; daughters: Janice Patricia Smalls Green and Kathy Edwards; grandchildren: Andre’ Smalls, Nicholas, Kadynce, Hayden and Gavin Smalls, Chloe and Jessica Lunich, Bailey Adams, and John C. Smalls; great-grandchildren, Aaliyah and Sophia Smalls; sisters: Dolly Bell Theirse, Betty Jean Richburg and a host of nieces and nephews.

Viewing will be at Peninsula Funeral Home on Saturday, November 20, 2021 beginning at 1 p.m. followed by a 2 p.m. service. The CDC highly recommends masks for inside gatherings. Interment will follow at Peninsula Memorial Park, Newport News, VA.

The Smalls family wishes to thank the staff at the Hampton Veterans Administration and the Virginia Health Services Coliseum Rehabilitation Center in Hampton, Virginia for the kind and professional care they provided to our loved one.


  1. Dori and Craig Dumas

    Our deepest heartfelt condolences goes out to the family. May his memories help to comfort and may God bless and be with you all. Sending love and prayers from New Haven, CT (Bailey’s Grandparents)

  2. Rozell G. Wright

    My love, thoughts and prayers are with you. John Wesley was such a great supporter of our Green Family Reunion. He will be greatly missed.

  3. MSG (Ret) Grayling A. Drummond

    Mr Smalls made contact in my life when I was a young soldier attending his Marlin Spike training where he knew every aspect of the field. He was very patient with every student and would coach you until you caught on, his teaching stayed with me throughout my 22 years in the military and into civil service where I still saw him mentoring new soldiers as he did me and others. His contribution to service and people in his community will be etched with his positive actions toward humanity forever.

  4. Stephanie and Vaughn Willis

    We’re so sorry for the loss of your father. Please accept our heartfelt condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones. We hope you’re able to find peace and comfort during this difficult time.
    Sending a virtual hug!

  5. Kathy Edwards

    Most of all I will miss his distinctive laughter. Each time I heard it it made me laugh too. I’ll always cherish the letters he wrote me as a teenager. RIP John Wesley. Love you much, Kathy and Patrick Edwards, Baltimore, MD

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