Richard (Dick) J. Smith, 87, passed away on June 5, 2015, surrounded by loving family, a mere four months following the passing of his beloved wife of 64 years, Winnifred (MacArthur) Smith. They had happily resided on Dorothy Avenue in Wilmington for 58 years. He was the devoted father of Gloria Smith (and Peter Fang) of Falmouth and AZ, Glen Smith (and Linda) of Dracut, Gale Smith (and David Ellis) of SC, and Gaye Iverson (and Kevin McLynch) of NH. He was the loving grandfather of Katelyn Alberts, and Jason and Shelley Fang all of the Boston area, and Dustin and Cody Iverson of NH.
Dick was born in Lynn, the 8th of 10 children to the late Louis E. and Elise (Paris) Smith. He had many fond memories of his youth and family. He was predeceased by his brothers, Lewis and Norman, and his sisters, Mabelle Davis, Helene Garland, Geraldine Madden, Bernice Kelleher, and Blanche Maguire. He is survived by a brother, Lawrence, of NH, and a sister, Laurel Kerwin, of Saugus. He leaves behind numerous nieces, nephews and other extended family members and friends.
Raised and educated in Lynn, Dick loved playing football, hockey and baseball, graduating from Lynn Classical High School in 1945. He enthusiastically enlisted in the US Navy Reserve on his 18th birthday, just as World War II was winding down, and proudly served his country in Washington D.C. One of his favorite assignments there was to design and facilitate the creation of a baseball field and a golf driving range for the troops’ leisure time enjoyment.
At 15 years old, Dick began working part-time after school at the General Electric Company’s Riverworks facility in Lynn. GE was a primary developer and manufacturer of military aircraft engines. After his honorary discharge and return from the service, he returned to the GE where he worked his way up the ladder as a design analyst. His analytical mind was instrumental in many aspects of turbojet and other military and commercial GE aircraft engine design, and trouble-shooting. He earned several patents and awards during his 44 years of service. Throughout his career, he was also an avid member of the GE golf league.
It was while working in GE’s Thompson Lab in 1949 that Dick first laid eyes upon a co-worker who would become the love of his life. He and Winnie shared a fondness for country drives, dancing, and myriad other things. They married in December of 1950, honeymooned at Niagra Falls, and began their life’s journey together. After residing a few years in Lynn and Peabody, they bought a house in a new development in rural Wilmington in 1957, where they raised their four children. They were both ambitious and enthusiastic do-it-yourselfers, slowly but surely improving their house and property, one project at a time. They happily hosted many memorable 4th of July cookouts and other outdoor functions in their beautiful, fun-filled yard. They also enjoyed sharing the bounty of their extensive vegetable garden and apple trees with neighbors. After Dick’s retirement from the GE in 1987, he and Winnie spent 18 winters in Orlando, FL, where he delighted in being able to golf year round, and enjoy outdoor living with their friends.
Dick devoted himself to learning new things, attending numerous adult education courses in Wilmington and elsewhere to learn useful trades such as upholstery, oil burner maintenance, and metal work, to name a few. In the early 60’s he was very involved in Wilmington PTA activities, serving a term as president. One of his pet projects was procuring stainless steel identification bracelets/necklaces for students in Wilmington during the Cold War era. During the mid-70’s, Dick enjoyed coaching The Sluggers team for several years, along with his daughter, Gloria, in the Wilmington Recreation Girls Softball League, on which daughter Gale played. His astute batting analysis skills ensured that the team lived up to its name, and his great sense of humor made it fun. Dick carefully followed and cared deeply about town issues, always willing to make thoughtful recommendations for improvements for the general good.
An avid golfer, Dick was a member of Salem, Wayland, and most recently, Tewksbury Country Club leagues, where he was known for his long drives and competitive play. He was still winning trophies in his mid-80’s. He loved his Boston sports teams, particularly the Red Sox. Their breaking The Curse in 2004 was a major life event for him, and he was further thrilled to live to see two more world championships. Dick enjoyed collecting coins, stamps, model cars, and Red Sox memorabilia. He was very adept at woodworking, creating everything from inlaid clocks to Adirondack chairs. He also loved photography. Creative Dick was always busy with a project of some sort, and loved gifting them to others to enjoy.
In his last few years, Dick never wavered in his singular devotion to his beloved wife, caring for her at home as long as possible, then steadfastly visiting her each day in her nursing home. Her passing seemed to mark the end of his raison d’etre, and his decline thereafter was swift. Dick almost seemed to choose to join her, rather than go on alone.
Dick will be fondly remembered for his generosity towards others, his quick wit and sense of humor, his can-do attitude, independent spirit, analytical mind, and his love and devotion to his family, hometown and country. He will be missed.
His family wishes to thank the many kind citizens of Wilmington whom Dick encountered in his weekly routine who offered kind words, smiles or assistance to an aging man striving to maintain his independence. Employees at Market Basket, Lucci’s, East Gate Liquor, CVS, The Lowell 5, the Post Office, Buzzell Senior Center, Wilmington Health Care Center, Wilmington Medical Center and countless other establishments. We thank you for your untold kindnesses. Dick would often recount stories of people helping him, and even how he once ran out of gas and a kind women went and got gas for him! These are the things that make Wilmington such a wonderful town in which to live. Thank you one and all for looking out for your senior citizens!
The family also wishes to acknowledge the thoughtful care and devotion of the staffs of Woodbriar of Wilmington and Compassionate Care Hospice during his final weeks. Thank you so very much.
Family and friends will gather for visitation at the Nichols Funeral Home, 187 Middlesex Avenue (Rte. 62), Wilmington, on Monday, June 22 from 4:30-6:30 p.m., immediately followed by a “Celebration of Life” service at 6:30 p.m. Private interment with Military Honors will be at Wildwood Cemetery, Wilmington. Memorial donations in Richard’s name may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 480 Pleasant St., Watertown, MA 02472.