The couple who have been missing since a fire burned their cabin on Nan’s Rock Road July 17-18 were a social couple who kept in touch with friends and family on a daily basis.
Terry and Sharon Smith were also known to let people stay on the 80- to 100-acre property in the Laycock Creek area between Mt. Vernon and John Day that the couple bought in the mid-1990s, according to Sharon’s sister Cathy Hinshaw, who lives in Hawaii.
Terry and Sharon first met in junior high school in Springfield, Hinshaw said. He was 13, and Sharon was 12. Hinshaw was Terry’s age and was in his class at school.
Even at 13, Terry was a “go-getter,” Hinshaw said. He found a job as a bus boy at a restaurant at a large hotel in Eugene and one month later was the assistant manager, she said.
“His goal at the time was to have a career in hotel management,” she said.
Sharon was a cheerleader in high school and was very social, Hinshaw said. When Terry was hired to help manage a hotel at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington, Sharon dropped out of high school and went with him, Hinshaw said.
After a time, the Smiths returned and established a trading post or second-hand store in the Springfield area. Another trading post in Harrisburg followed, then a restaurant in Springfield and another restaurant in Eugene.
Terry and Sharon were a happy couple, Hinshaw said.
“I never saw them yell at each other,” she said.
The Smiths never had children. They were always working and keeping busy — Terry with his various business interests along with hunting and fishing, and Sharon gardening and reupholstering furniture or working for senior homes and hospice. Hinshaw recalled them serving food at homeless shelters on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Terry would give you the shirt off his back,” she said, adding that he always picked up hitchhikers.
Hinshaw moved to Hawaii in the early 1980s, and after a few visits, the Smiths bought property there. Over the years, Terry bought numerous properties in Hawaii and rented them out.
The Smiths later went into the clothing business, hiring seamstresses in Bali, Indonesia, and even designing clothes and printed fabrics. Hinshaw joined them for a time.
“We really got into it for a while,” she said.
The Smiths wintered in Hawaii and sold clothing and other items during the summer. They had outlets at Friday Harbor, in the San Juan Islands of Washington and at a large flea market in Blaine, Washington, Hinshaw said.
Terry had suffered two heart attacks in the past few years, Hinshaw said. He was in Hawaii each time and was flown to a hospital in Honolulu. One of the heart attacks was brought on when Hinshaw’s 400-pound semi-wild pig passed away under her bedroom window and Terry was trying to deal with the dead animal.
“If it had happened three or four weeks later, he would have been out hunting in Eastern Oregon,” she said.
Blaine resident Sarah Zoet told the Eagle she’s known the Smiths for 12 years and was expecting to see them in about six weeks when they passed through the area. Zoet said the Smiths owned a successful produce market and blueberry farm in Blaine. She said the Smiths turned over the blueberry farm to her after she worked for them for several years. She also said Sharon owned a gift store in Friday Harbor, on the San Juan Islands in Washington.
Zoet said she met the Smiths during a tough time in her life. She asked them if she could rent a trailer on the blueberry farm and they immediately agreed and offered her assistance.
“They are the most beautiful, compassionate, giving people I have ever met in my entire life,” Zoet said. “It makes me absolutely heartbroken what’s happened.”
Zoet said she saw Terry with the silver-gray Toyota pickup truck soon after he purchased it in Tacoma, Wash.
“I ask myself every day where that truck could be,” she said. “How harm could have come to them boggles my mind.”