Thomas W.R. Smith, 78, of Athena, died Feb. 22, 2008 at Evergreen Rehabilitation and Retirement Center in Milton-Freewater. Memorial services were held March 22, 2008 at Athena Baptist Church with Pastor John Nichols, Pastor Max Bebb and Bill Hansell officiating. A meal for family and friends followed in the fireside room of the church.
He was born in Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 2, 1930, to James Merrille and Helen Albert Smith of Canal Winchester, Ohio. He attended elementary school in Canal Winchester and then Indianola Junior High School, the first junior high school in the United States, for ninth grade. Afterward, he attended Columbus North High School for three years, graduating in 1948.
He attended the school of agriculture and pre-forestry at Ohio State University for two years, followed by the University of Idaho Summer Forestry Camp at McCall, Idaho in 1950 and then Michigan State College, studying forestry and wood technology. On August 16, 1951, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a private for two years. During the first year there, he attended automotive mechanics school and armored radio maintenance school. The second year was spent in Austria, serving in the military police. On August 8, 1953, he was discharged into the U.S. Army Reserves, serving for eight years. In 1958, he graduated from the College of Forestry at the University of Idaho with a bachelor's of science degree in forest managment.
In 1957, he worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Colville Indian Reservation at Nespelem, Wash. and on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in 1958. He also worked for the Oregon State Tax Commission, serving as a timber appraiser for eight years and for the Washington County Department of Public Works for nine years on the survey crew. His passion was surveying, having worked for Stan Wallulis, Wayne Harris and the U.S. Forest Service. He became a licensed surveyor in 1988. In July 1993, he retired from Umatilla County, serving as a property appraiser there for 12 1/2 years.
He was a member of both Adams Community Church and Athena Baptist Church. He was a member of the Society of American Foresters, the American Legion and a life member of the Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon, active in the Blue Mountain Chapter since its inception in 1977. Until illness forced him to resign, he chaired the Sunset Housing Board of Directors, developing affordable housing for seniors. He also served as a SMART volunteer for one year at a Milton School and another year at a Pendleton School. He also enjoyed attending the Monday Morning Bible Study, helping with the Kids' Konnections at Athena Baptist Church and attending the Men's Fellowship breakfast in Weston.
Mr. Smith is survived by his wife of 21 years, Edith King Elligsen Smith at the home; three stepdaughters, Becky Elligsen, Monmouth; Wendy Henderson, Bend; and Katie Clark, Pendleton; two stepsons from a previous marriage, Mitchell Hayes, Pilot Rock; and Darwin Hayes, Toppenish, Wash.; brother, Rev. James M. Smith, Norcross, Ga.; numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and his beloved grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his parents; sister, Marguerite Shop; stepson, Paul Hayes; and stepdaughter, Denise Hayes.
A summer memorial with inurnment will be held at Union Grove Cemetery in Ohio. Memorial contributions may be made to AmeriTribes, a favorite mission-outreach of Mr. Smith's, at P.O. Box 27346, Tucson, AZ 85726-7346.