Let the memory of Gene Smith be with us forever.
Genes life celebration was a wonderful event attended by Family and Great friends , just as his life was. Please share a picture and a story of times spent with Gene for all of us to enjoy .
  • 90 years old
  • Born on February 8, 1929 in Victor, Iowa, United States.
  • Passed away on February 15, 2019 in Palm Desert, California, United States.

This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Gene Boyd Smith 90 years old , born on February 8, 1929 and passed away on February 15, 2019. We will remember him forever. This site will be up forever as will our memories. 

Posted by Jane Nixon on April 7, 2019
Dear Smith family,
If someone would ask me who I admired most in life, Gene Smith would be at the top of the list. A true rags to riches story. From struggling farmer to aerospace engineer. From living in a run-down farm house with no running water to a home with a swimming pool.
I am so full of wonderful memories about Gene and Barb. I am so thankful that they have been part of my life. The stories Gene would tell about Uncle Boyd and Aunt Virginia living out on the farm were priceless. Gene relayed that during World War II sugar was rationed. Boyd decided to bury his sugar to hide it from the authorities, regretfully he forgot where he buried it. This buried treasure became an urban legend and somehow the sugar was morphed to money. 
I know where Gene got his sense of humor and adventure, from his father Boyd. Boyd was a real character. His wife, Virginia was the most kind, good humored, and easy-going person on earth - she had to be to off-set her risk-taking husband. Apparently, when Gene was a young teenager and just learning to fly, his dad was in the hospital and simply checked himself out. He called Gene and told him to get in the airplane and come get him. When the young, inexperienced pilot landed in Cedar Rapids, there was Boyd at the end of the runway waiting for him. Other stories Gene told about Boyd’s adventures with the airplanes involved several crashes. According to Gene, one accident resulted in Boyd being scalped and Virginia breaking several bones. I guess you could call Boyd one lucky aviator.  I recently ran into a man at the Brooklyn nursing home (Bob Murtha) who was a pilot in WWII, I asked him why he didn’t have an airplane. He giggled and responded, “Your uncle wrecked it.”
Gene’s nickname was “Guts” he didn’t back down from a fight and he was willing to take a risk. I was home in Victor over Christmas and joined Dad’s coffee crew. One of Gene’s friends, Don Branyon was there and told the story of how Gene and his good friend in high school would get into arguments while they were in the car. Gene would pull over, the two would get out, settle their differences with a fist fight, and get back the car like nothing had happened. This happened many, many times and according to Don, Gene would win the verbal argument but fell short with the fists.
I remember going to Los Angeles as a child and going with the Smith kids to Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland. I especially remember one New Year’s Day when we attempted to attend the Rose Bowl Parade. The problem was that it was so foggy you couldn’t see. Gene was driving through fog with Uncle Chuck walking in front of the car guiding us through the worst. A car with a boat attached to its roof ran a light, crashed into the car in front and the boat went sailing down the street.  Once we finally arrived at the parade, it was so crowded that we couldn’t see a thing. 
Gene was the best story teller I have ever encountered.  Gene and Dad (Don) were raised more like brothers than first cousins. The best Thanksgivings I ever experienced were those when Gene, Barb, Mom, and Dad would come to celebrate. I would stand mesmerized at our island in the kitchen as Gene would entertain us with stories of Boyd, Virginia, and adventures with Dad. 
Gene and Dad’s shenanigans go way back. One time when Gene was in detention at school, and was forced to write, “I will not (fill in the blank)” 100 times on the blackboard. My Dad climbed up to the second story, clinging to the side of the building, he inched his way to the classroom, crawled in the window and helped Gene finish his punishment. The plan was foiled when the teacher walked in and saw Dad’s shoes sticking out from under her desk. 
Another Don and Gene adventure that sticks out involved a shattered windshield. Dad, Gene and Lowell Jack were on their way to a music festival in Williamsburg in Grandpa Raymond’s 1937 Chevy. For some stupid reason, Gene brought along Uncle Boyd’s loaded pistol. Lowell thought it was a toy gun, grabbed the gun and pointed it at Gene’s head. Gene knocked it away just in time, the gun went off and shattered the windshield.  They drove the car to a dealership in nearby Marengo for repairs where the owners realized there was something fishy going on and called their parents. The three teenagers made up a plausible excuse, practiced it, and convinced their parents that it was simply a rock that shattered the windshield. 
The Smith/Rohrer/Nixon Thanksgivings could not be complete without a trip downtown DC to the Air and Space Museum. Gene would show us the Minute Man Missile and explain how he was involved in its creation and why it was replaced. Even today when I am in the museum, I go pay homage to Gene and his minute man missile.
Dad and Gene, being children of the great depression could not pass up a deal and couldn’t stand throwing away something that had any life left in it. This philosophy regretfully matched perfectly with my husband, Brian. While Barb, Mom and I were off having fun at a craft fair, we gave our husbands the chore of going to the dump with strict orders, “Do not come back with more that you took!” Dad, Gene and Brian came back snickering and bragging that they had discovered the “art of dumpster diving.”
I also couldn’t throw anything away while the three were present. They were constantly pulling things our to the trash questioning why I would throw this away. At one point, I was trying to make room in the refrigerator for left over Thanksgiving dinner and threw some old grapes away. Several minutes later I spotted Dad and Gene hovering over the waste basket pulling grapes out of the trash and eating them and lamenting why I would throw this away!
These memories that I have of Gene and those he shared with me are precious; I am sorry I cannot tell them as well as the master story- teller himself. He was truly one of a kind and as Jeff said, he crossed the finish line. I like to think of him as racing across the finish line, fists pumping up in the air yelling “What a ride!”
Jane Rohrer Nixon

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