James Noel Smith, 73, left this world on June 15, 2011, after a long and courageous struggle with cancer.
Born in Missoula on July 20, 1937, to James H. and Sadie Z. Smith, Jim was raised in Thompson Falls. Growing up in this rural mountain town, he developed a deep reverence for the land, the air and the water surrounding him in Western Montana. Conserving these places and resources became Jim's calling in life.
After graduating from The University of Montana, Jim and his young family moved to Washington, D.C., where he lived for 40 years. He began his career as a legislative aide to Sen. Lee Metcalf (Democrat of Montana). Jim then continued to serve the public as an official in the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and several conservation organizations.
Among his proudest and most lasting accomplishments was his involvement organizing the first Earth Day in 1970. Toward the end of his time in Washington, Jim established the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities, a trade association dedicated to helping communities improve their infrastructure with the benefit of tax-free financing.
Over a decade ago, Jim and his wife, Camie, came home to Montana, settling in Bozeman. They quickly became engaged in the community, developing a wide and wonderful circle of friends. Jim served on the board of the Montana Wilderness Association and, more recently, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. A student of history and politics, Jim was a lifelong Democrat; he was always up for a spirited conversation with family and friends about the events of the day.
Music was always a source of inspiration for Jim. Blessed with a rich baritone voice, Jim enjoyed singing in the Bozeman Symphony Chorale for several seasons. Jim's other abiding interests included reading, travel, hiking, fishing and simply marveling at the majesty of Montana.
Jim is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Camie; two children, Marcus H. Smith and Terry L. Gallik (Brian), as well as three grandsons, Keir Gallik, Sean Gallik and Tyler Smith.
The family respectfully asks that contributions be made in Jim's memory to the Gallatin Valley Land Trust.
"We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we begin to see the land as a commodity to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." - Aldo Leopold, "A Sand County Almanac."
A celebration of Jim's life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Bozeman Catholic Community Center, 210 S. Grand Ave. The family will receive friends at Riverside Country Club immediately following the service at 11 a.m.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service; www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on June 16, 2011