Dennis Smith

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March 25, 1923 - October 19, 2011 STILLWATER Dennis Smith left us with memories of a long and productive life. He was an example of a real man in every sense. He was a husband and father, soldier and hero, farmer and executive. To the last, he never lost his gentle demeanor nor his mischievous sense of humor. Dennis was the third of six children born to Berry Cleve and Ruby Fitzgerald Smith at their Hastings, Oklahoma, farm home. In high school, he was awarded a 4-H Club trip to the San Francisco World's Fair, where he won a scholarship to Oklahoma A&M College. His college and application to veterinary school were interrupted by World War II. He was a member of the infamous ROTC Firehouse Gang and remained close to his military buddies, most of whom served in the Battle of the Bulge where Dennis was almost fatally injured. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, and WWII Victory Medal. He was authorized permanent wear of the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism in action by his unit at the Colmar Pocket. He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for actions at Colmar. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on January 10, 1946. He was one of the first soldiers to receive the recently approved drug, penicillin, prescribed by thoracic surgeon, Dr. Donald Paulson, whom Dennis credited with saving his life. While on sick leave from Brooke General Hospital, he returned to OAMC to complete with high honors his B.S. degree in Animal Sciences. He worked on the Essar Research Ranch in San Antonio, Texas, while awaiting his military discharge. He then became a veterans' agriculture teacher at Hastings and Temple, OK, while farming simultaneously. On July 25, 1947, Dennis married college classmate, Bonnie Emerson. They became the proud parents of four sons. Through a close relationship with his uncle, Guy Fitzgerald, Dennis developed an interest in the oil and gas business. He enrolled in geology at OU, completing his second major (again with high honors) in one year while rough necking at night to support his family. Upon completion of his geology major, he was hired by Frank Lookabaugh to join the Big Chief Drilling Company staff. Dennis remained grateful to Big Chief, especially to William Payne and Jack Abernathy for the opportunities he received in the many aspects of earth sciences so useful in his world-wide search for and development of oil, gas, mercury, and silver, while working in Australia, Canada, Bolivia, Mexico, and the United States. During this time of adventure and travel, his most notable accomplishment was that of being a wonderful, loving husband, father, son, grandfather, and friend. Dennis' 30-year career at Big Chief was climaxed by serving as its Vice-President and Director, and as President of its successor, Entex Petroleum, Inc. Upon retirement, he and his wife formed a private oil and gas production business, which ended with their retirement 13 years later and a move to Stillwater in 1998. Professionally, Dennis was one of the first three geologists chosen by the Oklahoma City Geological Foundation as "Legends in the Oil and Gas Industry." In addition, he was chosen by the OKC Geological Society for Honorary Lifetime Membership. OSU honored him in 1983 with a Distinguished Service Award. He had served with the OSU Board of Governors and Wrestling Hall of Fame and held lifetime membership in the OSU Alumni Association. In Oklahoma City, he had served as a Little League baseball coach and coordinator, assistant Scoutmaster and committeeman of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a true supporter of the OSU golf program and the University's academic and athletic ambitions. In 1957, Dennis committed his life and service to his Lord and Savior. He later became an Elder of the Mayfair Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. After moving to Stillwater, he placed membership with the Stillwater Church of Christ. Predeceased by his infant son, Roger Foy, he joins his son, his parents, and four brothers for a joyful heavenly reunion. Dennis is survived by Bonnie, his wife of more than 64 years; son, Russell D. and his wife Camille, children, Anne Marie and Jonathan R. Smith; son, Philip B. and his wife Shannon, Scott C. and his wife Katherine, Laura E. Smith, Mitchel and Meredith Knight; son, Scott E. and his wife Julie, children, Katie, Rebecca, and Ben Smith; sister, Evah Jo Heimsch; sisters-in-law, Noma Jean Emerson, Mary K. and Doris Smith. Kathlyn Smith, the Taylor sisters, and Louise Clark exemplify relatives that remained close to Dennis and Bonnie and provided comfort and assistance selflessly. A memorial service will be conducted by Ford Funeral Service in Oklahoma City at the Mayfair Church of Christ in the small chapel on Monday, October 24th, at 10:00 a.m., with Dean Bryce officiating. Burial will take place in the Hastings Cemetery with immediate family members only in attendance. The family asks that no flowers be sent. Your love, prayers, and wonderful memories are requested.

Published in The Oklahoman on Oct. 23, 2011
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