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Obituary (NC): Richard Ivan Smith '57

Posted on 06/04/2018

Richard Ivan Smith, "Smitty", 84, passed away on May 30th, 2018.

Richard was born on September 26th, 1933 in El Dorado, Kansas to Ivan and Lottie Smith. He graduated from Butler Junior College in 1953. There he was the captain and center of the NJCAA National Championship basketball team of 1953. Richard then attended the United States Naval Academy from 1953-1957. There he majored in engineering and was on the baseball team. A tall left hander, he pitched and won many games for the Midshipmen against teams such as: Army, Harvard, Princeton, and Colgate. Upon graduating from the Naval Academy Richard entered the United States Air Force. He became a pilot. In 1962 he earned the rank of Captain and became an instructor pilot. Smitty then trained new graduates to fly the T-38 Talon at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona. Upon his honorable discharge from the service Richard spent many years using his engineering degree working with Trane, ITT Nesbitt, Lennox and Trion. In 1977 he ultimately settled his family in Sanford, North Carolina.

Richard was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend. He adored Marybeth, his wife of 56 years. He loved and supported his four children and two grandchildren, teaching them the basic elements of being good people and hard workers. With a twinkle in his eye he would say "Manners the butler" or "It is always a good day if you can put your feet on the floor and smile in the mirror". His positivity and good humor were infectious. He would sit for hours with his children and their friends telling tales and, laughing, and singing Navy songs. He constantly ribbed his 4 children (all graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill) by pulling for Duke just because! He loved to dance, play cards, board games and watch baseball. His favorite team always being the New York Yankees. Most of all, Smitty loved spending time with his wife and family. He also gave back to the community by coaching Little League Baseball, volunteering countless hours at St. Luke United Methodist Church, Highway to Healing, Christians United Outreach Center of Lee County, and his grandchildren's school functions.

Richard I Smith was predeceased by the love of his life of 56 years, Marybeth Smith, his brother Roger A. Smith of Kansas, and his parents. He is survived by his four children: Julie (John) Markovich of Raleigh, NC, Michael R. Smith of Saluda, NC, Laura (John) Williams of Saluda, NC, Pamela A. Smith of Oxford, NC; and his two grandchildren: Mary Gayge Markovich and Keith Michael Markovich. He is also survived by his sister, Kay Mairs of Dallas, Texas and several nieces and nephews.

The celebration of Richard's life will be held Wednesday June 6th 2018 at 11am in the Casey Chapel with family visitation to follow in the church parlor at St Luke United Methodist Church 2916 Wicker Street, Sanford NC.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Richard's memory to Highway to Healing 1615 South 3rd Street Sanford, NC 27330 or Christians United Outreach Center 2885 Lee Avenue Sanford, NC 27332.

Published in The News & Observer on June 4, 2018