George Ronald Smith
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Lewistown —George Ronald Smith turned a nice, even 88 years of age on the last day of his life July, 15, 2013. He died as he predicted, of "natural causes."
Born in 1925 to Laura K and George B Smith in Dundee, Illinois, George grew up on the family farm. He graduated high school from St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana. Not quite sure of his calling to become a priest, George enlisted in the US Army, excited to become a paratrooper. He used to joke that he was disappointed when the war ended during his enlistment thus cancelling paratrooper training! While in the service, he was stationed in Takarazuka, Japan and Fairbanks, Alaska. Still a kid at heart, he narrowly escaped being court martialed for trying to mail home a couple of hand grenades for his younger brothers to "go fishing with" in their farm pond! Despite this little indiscretion, when his four year tour of duty was up, George was honorably discharged as a sergeant in the Army Air Corps. He purchased an army surplus Willies Jeep in Fairbanks and he and an army buddy headed home to Illinois on the newly constructed AlCAN Highway. One of the highlights of their trip was sliding off a snow packed highway south of Great Falls Montana, taking out a length of fence, but being able to chain up and pull themselves out of the ditch and continue their journey. Little did he know that the slide off was prophetic in that he would return to spend the last years of his life in Montana.
George then enrolled in Northwestern University earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering. While interning with Bell Aircraft he met and fell in love with Lois, also an engineer at Bell, when he cleverly asked her if she had change for a dime so that he could buy a Coke. George and Lois shared Cokes for the next 60 years!
His career with various mechanical engineering companies took him from Syracuse, NY to Silver Spring, MD, Toledo, OH, then finally back to Maryland. In 1967 he and Lois formed Industrial Air Conditioning Company which became a successful commercial HVAC contractor throughout the Washington, DC area.
Having never quite forgotten his farming roots, George and Lois purchased a small farm in Brookeville, MD in the mid 1970's. He acquired, restored and used antique farm machinery at Sunnybrook Farm and especially enjoyed putting on threshing demonstrations at local community events.
From his early years raised with 7 siblings in a staunch Catholic family, his faith remained a strong fixture in his life.
He enjoyed singing in the choir of St. Peter's Parish during the years spent in Maryland, where he was active in study groups, religious education, and other parish activities, especially those involving building and maintenance.
In the early 1980's, George began to concentrate his engineering efforts on solving the problem of ice and frost build up in refrigerated warehouses. He used his mechanical engineering degree as well as his good old fashioned farmer's ingenuity to develop and patent the HCR, Air Curtain.
In 1991 with most of his kids either already living in Montana or headed that way, George became in his words "a falling leaf in a flowing stream." He moved his newly formed business, HCR, Inc., (named after the unique Horizontal, Curvilinear, Recirculatory air-flow pattern in the doorway) to Lewistown. HCR, Inc. continues to provide safe and energy efficient doorway solutions to the industry today.
His passion to keep old time farming ways alive led him to donate his entire collection of antique farm equipment to the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission for their historic farm upon his departure to Montana.
George and Lois settled into 'Sunnybrook Farm - West" on the divide East of Lewistown where he enjoyed establishing a garden and orchard and just "puttering around" the place.
After the move to Montana, George concentrated his efforts on building the success of HCR, Inc. and was always eager to have an audience to which he could explain the principles of psychrometrics!
George leaves behind Lois, his devoted wife of 60 years, children Mary Ellen Hendrickson (Matt Paton), Eileen (Randy) Crittenden, Pete (Margaret) Smith and Becky (Mel) Jackson, Grandchildren Jason (Whitney) Hendrickson, Burke Hendrickson, Jeanne Crittenden, Maria (Hunter) Calloway, Rebecca, Rose and Matt Smith and Jamie, Katie and Robbie Jackson, as well as four great grandchildren. Also, siblings Jeanne Shipley, Cyril and Dan Smith as well as many cherished nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings John, Orville, Peggy and Mary Ellen and a great grandson.
A Vigil Service celebrating George's life will be held Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 7 pm at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 am Monday, July 22, 2013 also at St. Leo's. Rite of Committal with full military honors presented by the Fergus American Legion Post #16 will follow at Mt. Calvary Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to Hospice of Central Montana, Mt. Calvary Cemetery or the
Service arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home. Condolences for the family can be expressed at www.creelfuneralhome.com
Published in Great Falls Tribune on July 19, 2013
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