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David Smith

Obituary of David G. Smith

On Friday July 24, 2020, David G. Smith died the way he wanted to live: at his peaceful Wisconsin Rapids home, his loving family close by, surrounded by the land and nature he enjoyed; especially the four recently born, Whitetail fawns, easily seen from his bedroom window. Born Percy Demars to Percival and Martha Demars, in 1931 in Eau Claire Wisconsin, he lost his mother when he was four and father when he was ten. In those days, the fate of a parentless child was the orphanage, where he and sister Gibby were placed. His two older, adult sisters, Denise and Lil unsuccessfully attempted to adopt him. Much like "The Boy Named Sue", he was teased by the other boys for being named Percy, and soon learned to grow tough and fight his own battles. Eventually adopted by George and Effie Smith of Wisconsin Rapids, Percy couldn't have been more pleased to have his name changed to David. A competitive man with a need for speed, Dave enjoyed boat racing, especially winning. In 1952 he entered the Winnebago Marathon, piloting his Switzer Craft for 92 miles against a field of 120 class B outboard competitors. A small waterspout nearly wiped him from the race but he persevered, finishing first in his class. He met the love of his life (Sallie Schmit) at the Friendly Fountain in Wisconsin Rapids. Near the end of the Korean War, he volunteered for the draft, serving basic training at Fort Riley, KS and stationed at Fort Mead, MD. After serving, Dave finally proposed to Sallie in her father's living room. It would take a little coaxing to get Dave to pull the trigger, so Sallie's father had prepared a blazing fire and left them alone. Sallie wasn't as subtle; she had other suiters in the wings, and gave Dave an ultimatum. That did the trick. On a rainy, and some say, fortunate 28th of January in 1956, they were married. Graduating from Marquette University in 1957 with a bachelor's degree, his early years were spent in Milwaukee, working for Allen Bradley by day, and by night managing an activities center for at-risk youths in the heart of the city. Dave's family years were spent with his seven children on travel trailer vacations to northern Wisconsin, Michigan and Canada. These were the salad days of highway travel, when seatbelts were optional and no one was arrested for banishing a few unruly children to the StarCraft. An avid outdoorsman and sporting enthusiast, Dave enjoyed hunting and fishing in places like Colorado and Alaska. Personally, I will never forget our quests across Wisconsin, through river, creek and secret spring pond, seeking to outwit the elusive and wily Brook Trout. He attended his daughter's softball, volleyball and basketball games whenever humanly possible. He even coached most of their softball games. In 1963, Dave purchased the Kellogg Lumberyard, and officially hung his shingle, as the sole proprietor of Smith Lumber, Nekoosa, Wisconsin, "Home of the Friends Price!" Some may still remember the days when he sold unique items like mini bikes, used vending machines and even window grown tomato plants. Dave was a skilled poker and blackjack player. He was fond of crossword puzzles, solving them right up until the last week of his life. He loved chocolate and peanuts, and chocolate covered peanuts. An avid numismatist, he enjoyed trading and purchasing rarities between trusted friends. An active member of The Port Edwards Lions Club, Dave was always concerned with keeping their fund raising events financially sound and successful. Dave came from an age when men still dressed smartly, wore a clean shave every day, and there was never such a thing as too much talcum powder. He believed a man's word was his bond and a hand shake held more water than the tightest contract. His silence spoke volumes, but when he spoke, it was plain talk, routinely laced with a beloved aphorism. Tell him you were overwhelmed by your job and he'd reply in his unmistakably soothing voice, "We all put our pants on one leg at a time." He enjoyed a good joke and seemed to know them all, even the cheeky ones. He was fond of quoting Ogden Nash in the spring time, right when the grass was "riz." His clever way of looking at life was often confirmed by his witty commentary. Dave was never "gone fishing," but sometimes he'd leave a note saying he was "drowning worms down by the creek." Even his penmanship was uniquely Dave: all caps in a flowery blend of print and cursive, yet exquisitely legible, every T crossed and I dotted. It's these little things I miss most about my dad. And they keep coming to me as I write . There is so much more to say about dad, but these words are costly and the thrifty businessman he was, would not want me wasting hard earned money on unnecessary overhead. So as they say in the Hollywood accounting rooms, let's cut to the chase. In later years, he did less hunting and fishing but grew to enjoy long nature walks and tending to the trees, birds and wild things on his property. He was proud of his property, especially proud of the long ago decision to buy the extra acreage. It kept the family close and that's what meant the most to him. He adored his many grandchildren, sharing the fruits of his garden labors, and teaching them secrets of the land, like which berries to eat or to avoid, how to tell a sugar maple from a red maple or how to count the hidden tines on a velvet Whitetail buck. He missed his grandson Jeremy dearly, often speaking of his cribbage playing visits or their quiet talks together. Dave is survived by his beautiful wife Sallie, seven "amazing" children: Dave "JR" Smith; Susan Smith Medina (John): Sarah Smith Hutkowski (Scott); Doug Smith; Sharon Smith Sexton (Peter); Darren Smith (Brenda); Daniel Smith (Tammy); and a plethora of beautiful grandchildren and great grandchildren. Dave is predeceased in death by a long line of doctors and friends who tried to tell him what to eat and how to live his life. Breathe easy now dad. You have waded the stream to that secret spot just around the bend, knowing things that none of us may know until we're there. Break some bread with the Fisher of Men. And put in a good word for the rest of us. Play a long game of cribbage with Jeremy. We love you Dad! Keep your nose clean.
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