The Chronicle -

Stephen Robert Smith - July 21, 1953 – Jan. 18, 2020

 

January 30, 2020

Stephen Robert Smith - July 21, 1953 – Jan. 18, 2020

Stephen Robert Smith, 66, passed away on Jan. 18, 2020 following an unfortunate accident while working.

Steve was born July 21, 1953 to new parents James Robert "Jim" and Joan Delores (Job) Smith at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, S.D.

After the Air Force, his father developed wanderlust, so Steve, his mother and his siblings would dutifully follow him all over South Dakota, Oregon and California and back again. It wasn't always easy, but they made it work, and Steve's mom had a talent for making anywhere they lived feel cozy and inviting.

In June 1971, Steve graduated from Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore.

Steve entered the Army on Feb. 9, 1973. Due to the lottery, Steve was not deployed to Vietnam. Instead, he was released from active duty with honors and returned to Oregon to complete his service with the National Guard.

Being the oldest, with two working parents, Steve often had the roles of both parent and big brother. A special bond formed individually between him and each of his brothers and sisters. He loved them deeply and felt he was their protector his whole life through.

He met his "Blossom," Sherry Lee Hanes, in April of 1978. They married on Aug. 18, 1979 in Reno, Nev. Their son Joel James was born in 1980, and their daughter Stephanie June arrived 11 months and 3 weeks later in 1981.

In 1988, Steve and Sherry moved to Redmond, Ore., where they lived for 18 years.

Thinking back to his experience as a child, Steve made a promise to Joel and Stephie on their first day of school in 1988. He said, "The kids you start school with today will be the kids you graduate with." He kept that promise.

In 2006, Steve and Sherry returned to the Eugene-Springfield area to be near their parents.

Steve's nearly 50-year professional career was so multifaceted that it's difficult to thoroughly compile. He worked for U.S. Railway. He drove log truck, chip truck and other heavy equipment. He drove long-haul for other companies, as well as being owner/operator of two trucks – something in which he took great pride. He also drove belly dump for his father-in-law Aubrey Hanes and was a trucking company dispatcher.

He was an excellent mechanic and could fix nearly anything on a semi. He was handy with any early model car or pickup truck as well. He greased all of his own trucks, whether he owned them or not. He could tell you the best route to take to get anywhere in the western United States.

Twenty-five years ago, he could often be found lying on a gravel driveway on a Sunday night, dressed in coveralls, in below freezing temperatures, well after midnight, with only a trouble light, and working on a broken-down truck he drove but didn't own. He would then get about three or four hours of sleep and leave at dawn. He did the things most refused to do, and did them well. He was never too proud or too tired for any task.

Sometimes his giving heart would get broken by others, but he never allowed it to change his core values and he forgave. Over and over.

Steve's hobbies included spending what free time he had with his family. He also enjoyed fishing if he got the chance. He liked to watch television. His family felt close watching programs together when he was a boy. Steve often told a story of how his mother would pop popcorn and let the neighborhood kids come over and watch "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" with their family as they had the only color TV on that particular street.

Steve loved old movies and old Hollywood actors and actresses. He passed that love on to his son. And he dearly loved his two Welsh Corgis, Wyatt and Ranger.

He spent the last seven years of his life as an employee of Hamilton Construction. He was cherished there and he felt it.

He was a member of Northwood Christian Church in Springfield, and he loved serving his church family there.

Steve had many friends. He cherished his friends and tried to keep in touch with them year after year. He is deeply missed.

Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Sherry, of Creswell; four siblings: brother Allen (Debi) Smith of Springfield, sister DeAnn (Danny) Daves of Sisters, Ore., sister Debbie (Jim) Cutshall of Anchorage, Alaska, and brother Tommy (Sasha) Smith of Prineville, Ore.; two children: son Joel (Brian) Smith of Salem, Ore., and daughter Stephanie (Tim) Francis of Bend, Ore.; and two sisters-in-law: Nancy Hanes of Jasper, Ore., and Chrissy (Kathie) Hanes of Eugene, Ore.

He is also survived by five grandchildren: Ethan, Kyle, Ellie, Sawyer and Brianna; one great-grandchild, Ronan; six nieces and nephews: Mindi, Brandon, Andy, Taylor, Chris and Mitchell; and five great-nieces and nephews: Allison, Atlas, Tryce, Alexis and Brice.

He was preceded in death by his infant brother Jimmy and by his parents, Jim and Joan Smith.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 at Northwood Christian Church in Springfield. Dress is casual.

 
 

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