Longtime Pioneer Valley Resident
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ATHOL - Leslie Whitman Smith, 97, of River Bend Woods, a native of Orange, died Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, at Quabbin Valley Healthcare.
Leslie was born in Orange on May 20, 1916, the son of Percie F. Smith of Orange and Lilian Turner of Ashfield, where he spent summer school vacations at the Turner homestead. He attended Orange schools, and won his orange "O" by helping to establish and manage one of the earliest high school soccer teams in Massachusetts. At that time football was thought too dangerous for a small high school. After high school, he was in the Civilian Conservation Corps, helping build New England park roads and facilities.
His ancestors in Orange included the founders of the Minute Tapioca Co. and the Orange Enterprise newspaper.
In 1934, he met Janis Elizabeth Sauter when he bought an ice cream cone from her at the McCann's ice cream store in Athol. They were married at her Athol home in 1936. Soon after they opened Leslie's, an ice cream and sandwich store on North Main Street in downtown Orange, which was in business until 1956.
In 1943, Leslie joined Remington Rand, now Unisys, as one of the early technicians on large scale calculators, early versions of computers. That skill took him to many commercial installations in Western Massachusetts, including the Strategic Air Command headquarters in the Notch, South Hadley. In 1972, he retired from Unisys.
His career was partially interrupted when he was drafted into the Army in 1944. But after duty in the Philippines and Formosa (Taiwan), he continued his involvement with computers at General MacArthur's headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, where he worked on IBM machines.
Leslie's interests and activities spanned Odd Fellows in Orange, the choirs at Forest Park Methodist Church and the Evangelical Covenant Church, both in Springfield, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Covenant Church, gun club, accordion lessons, water commissioner at Lake Pleasant, Mass., adult Sunday School teaching at the Methodist Church in Greenfield, swimming, travel caravans throughout the U.S.A. and Canada, tax preparation services through AARP, being a docent at Historic Deerfield, writing articles on Franklin County history, and reading in American western history.
In addition to his parents and his wife, he was predeceased by his sister, Olive Smith, and two grandsons, Maj. Leslie C. Smith II and Derek MacPhail.
Survivors are a daughter, Penelope MacPhail, and her husband, Richard; two sons, the Rev. Leslie C. Smith, and his wife, Lois, and Dr. Gregory J. Smith, and his wife, Laura. Leslie and Janis had 11 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
A graveside service will be held at the Hill Cemetery, Ashfield, this spring.
The family may be contacted through Witty's Funeral Home of Orange., 158 South Main Street, Orange.
You may offer your sympathy online at:
Witty's Funeral Home
158 South Main Street Orange, MA 01364
Published in The Recorder on Feb. 15, 2014