Longtime Oak Cliff resident “Smokey John” Reaves died last week from complications of diabetes. He was 74.

Reaves and his wife, Gloria, opened Big John’s, the predecessor to Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que and Home Cooking, on West Mockingbird Lane near Harry Hines, in 1976.

They lived in the Oak Park Estates neighborhood and sent their two sons, Juan and Brent, to Bishop Dunne Catholic School.

Juan and Brent Reaves now own Smokey John’s, and they had to rebuild it after a fire in September 2017. The restaurant reopened in February.

John Reaves, whose first career was as a mortgage broker, was the second-ever African American vendor at the State Fair of Texas. His sons recently won a Big Tex Choice award for their “Big Red chicken bread,” a doughnut made with soda-infused batter covered in a Big Red glaze and topped with a chicken wing wearing tiny sunglasses.

“Giant of a man,” his son-in-law, the Rev. Michael Waters said in a media release. “Black-owned business in Dallas for 40 years. Second black to have a stand at the State Fair of Texas. Knew and celebrated by celebrities and officials across the years. Dedicated and traveled in ministry around the world.”

Reaves was “driven by a higher purpose,” and he dedicated Tuesdays at Smokey John’s to Bible study groups, WFAA reports.

Reaves also is survived by his daughter, Yulise Waters, and many grandchildren.