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Dr. William Earle Smith

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Dr. William Earle Smith died January 20, 2014 at his home in Baton Rouge with his family at his side. He was 88. He was born on August 31, 1925, to Grover and Lucy Smith in Baton Rouge and spent much of his childhood in Colfax. He spent two and half years in the Army during WWII as an artilleryman, including serving in occupied Germany following the war. After his discharge, he attended LSU, graduating from LSU Medical School in 1953. During that time, he met Gay Curet, a nursing student at Hotel Dieu Hospital where he was completing an externship. They were married in 1952 and enjoyed a long, happy and loving marriage of 58 years until Gay's death in January of 2010. Following Dr. Smith's orthopedic residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, he and his family moved to Baton Rouge, where he and Gay raised their daughters Laurie and Shannon and sons Scott, Todd and Shane. Dr. Smith was an accomplished orthopedic surgeon who practiced for 34 years in the Baton Rouge Orthopedic Clinic group, which he helped found. He specialized in knee problems and performed the first arthroscopic knee surgery in Louisiana. Upon his retirement in 1993, Dr. Smith discovered a passion and knack for woodworking. He built elaborate birdhouses that attracted a variety of birds to his backyard as well as the yards of many friends and family members. He also carved Santa Clauses as gifts, creating each year's unique carving based on pictures or ideas from Gay. He and Gay both loved to garden, and his prolific tomatoes fed friends, family and many a reporter at The Advocate every year. In his later years, he took up cooking, endlessly experimenting and perfecting his recipes, and he got a computer, opening up new channels of communication with his friends and family, which he relished. During his career, Dr. Smith was a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a charter member of the North American Arthroscopic Association, a past president of the Louisiana Orthopedic Association and a member of the Tulane Caldwell Club. He also served as a clinical instructor at Tulane Medical School, an orthopedic consultant for the LSU Infirmary and the team physician for Lee High School's football team. He and Gay were members of St. Aloysius Catholic Church, and he was a longtime fan and supporter of LSU. Dr. Smith is survived by his daughter Shannon Smith Heully; and sons, Todd Smith and Shane Smith, all of Baton Rouge; his grandchildren Sarah Anderson, of Indianapolis, and Casey Anderson, of Denham Springs, and their father Robert Anderson, also of Denham Springs; sisters, Betsy Morris, of Madison, Wis.; and Betty James, of Gainesville, Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Gay; daughter, Laurie; son, Scott; brother, Jack; and sisters, Melba and Mimi. The family wishes to express sincere gratitude to Kathryn Grigsby and Hospice of Baton Rouge and to Marquis Heard, Latisha White and Stephen Wurst for their caring, loving support and assistance. Special thanks to Dr. Smith's son Todd for living with and dedicating the last six years to caring for his parents, enabling them to live out their final years in their own home, as they wished. Visitation will be Thursday, January 23, 2014 at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, 2025 Stuart Ave., Baton Rouge, from 10:00 AM until funeral Mass at 12:00 PM with the Rev. Donald Blanchard, celebrant. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to: Hospice of Baton Rouge, 9063 Siegen Lane, Baton Rouge, La. 70810 or to St. Aloysius Catholic Church, 2025 Stuart Ave., Baton Rouge, La. 70808. Following the funeral mass interment will follow at Greenoaks Memorial Park under the guidance of Rabenhorst Funeral Home, 825 Government Street.
Published in The Advocate from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22, 2014
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