Gerald (Gerry) Smiley of Ormond Beach passed away on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, after a lengthy illness. He was a devout Christian and was ready to join the Lord. Gerry was born on Sept. 23, 1925 in Bristol, Quebec, Canada, a township of 100 or 200 people. He received his green card in 1929 when his family moved to several U.S. cities before settling in Ogdensburg, N.Y., where he attended junior high and high school. He played hockey in high school. In late 1943, he entered the U.S. Navy and was discharged in May 1946, as an electronic technician's mate 2/c. When the bomb dropped, he was on the USS Cleveland, at Okinawa with many other ships and thousands of men, waiting to invade Japan. Gerry received his citizenship in 1944 while serving in the Navy. After leaving the Navy in 1946, he attended Clarkson University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He and Sara Elizabeth Meeker met on a blind date in December 1946 and were married in September 1948. They enjoyed a full and varied life together for 65 years -- and never had a fight. Gerry joined General Electric Corp. in 1951 as a radar engineer in Syracuse, N.Y., and spent 32 years with the company. He ultimately became a vice president and CEO of GE-Brazil. Sara and Gerry and their four children came to Daytona Beach with the first wave of GE people on the Apollo space program. Two years later, he was named general manager of the Cape Kennedy operation. Four years more and they were back in Daytona, leading all the Apollo work and several startup endeavors. Then came five years in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where GE built everything from light bulbs to locomotives. After three more years in Syracuse, Gerry retired and, with Sara and their son Patrick, moved to Ormond Beach for the fourth time. He then joined what was then Ormond Memorial hospital's board and rejoined the Rotary Club. He also served on the boards of Hospital Samaritano Sao Paulo; Security First; Oeanside Country Club; Ormond Heritage, and performed various functions at First United Methodist Church of Ormond Beach. Additionally, he undertook many charitable fundraising efforts, including leading a $2 million effort for Memorial Hospital in 1988. Over the years, Gerry received many awards, including Clarkson University's Golden Knight; Memorial's Humanitarian of the Year; NASA's Public Service award; Rotary Outstanding Service; and most recently, the initial award from the Florida United Methodist Foundation for excelling in charitable giving in the Florida Conference and his local church. A quote from the Humanitarian Award sums up his approach to things : "He brought a genuine warmth and down-to-earth friendliness to his business and personal relationships." For the last several years, Gerry has devoted much time and effort to his church's Endowment Fund, general finances and Disciple Bible studies. He loved playing golf and enjoying the camaraderie of Armand's Group at Oceanside and playing bridge with his wife and others. Family was very important; he and Sara have also managed to fulfill their family's desire to get all 16 together periodically in various settings. As the saying goes, Gerry did a lot during the dash (1925-2013) in his lifetime and will be sadly missed by his family and many, many friends. He is predeceased by son, David. He is survived by his loving wife, Sara (Sally); daughter Linda (Jeff), and their children Jason, Jessica (Grayson), Lindsay and Lauren; son Steve and his daughters Sara and Laura; son Patrick (Debbie) and their children Aaron, Kharin and Kayla. He will also be greatly missed by his Springer Spaniel, Rebekah. A memorial service is planned for Monday October 28, 2013 at 11:00am, at First United Methodist Church of Ormond Beach. Memorial gifts may be made to First United Methodist Church of Ormond Beach's Endowment Fund, 336 S. Halifax Drive, Ormond Beach, Florida 32176.
Published in Daytona Beach News-Journal on Oct. 27, 2013
Haigh-Black Funeral Home
167 Vining Court Ormond Beach, FL 32176