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Dean Ellis Smith

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Dean Ellis Smith Obituary
Smith, Dean Ellis
Dean Ellis Smith of Tempe, Arizona died on July 7, 2012 at age 89. He was born on April 3, 1923 in Salina, Kansas to Lester Lloyd and Kathryn Combs Smith. He moved with his family from Chanute, Kansas, to Glendale, Arizona in 1933. After graduating from Glendale High in 1940, Dean attended Arizona State College where he ran track and served as the editor of both the State Press and the yearbook. During World War II, he joined the Army Air Force, trained at Pomona College and Yale University, and served as a communications officer. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Arizona State. After college, he worked as a sports editor for the Glendale News and Mesa Tribune, and served as Sports Information Director for Arizona State. He covered Sun Devil sports for the Arizona Republic during the 1950s, then rejoined his alma mater, now known as Arizona State University, as Director of Publications and Director of Development until his retirement in 1984. Dean is the author of more than a hundred historical and biographical articles in national and regional magazines, as well as almost 30 books on the history of Arizona, ASU and biographical pieces. His first book, "Barry Goldwater: The Biography of a Conservative", figured prominently in the 1964 presidential campaign and started a lifelong friendship with the senator. Similar connections were forged while writing the histories of many great Arizona families: the Guerreros, Babbitts, Goldwaters, Getz's, Flinns, Tremaines, Chilsons, Fains and Rhodes. His latest book, "Arizona Nuggets" is now in its third printing, the 2012 Arizona Centennial Issue. He continued in the Air Force Reserve as a liaison officer for the Air Force Academy for 35 years of service retiring as a Colonel. He was a member of Tempe First Methodist Church singing in the choir and serving on many committees there for more than 50 years. He was also active in the YMCA, serving as Program Director for Sky-Y Family Camp for many years, Westerners International, and in the Tempe Rotary Club. Chief among the many passions in his life were his family, his host of friends, world travel, community service, reading, golf, and all sports but especially ASU's teams. Dean had a wealth of knowledge about many subjects. He had a wonderful sense of humor and could come up with a witty pun in any situation. He lit up a room with his smile and was an interesting story teller. He had friends of all ages. Dean is survived by his wife of nearly 44 years, Jean, and four children from his first marriage to Betty Clark Smith: his son Clark (Kathy) of San Diego, daughters Kathy Franklin of Mesa, Karen Behee (Ron) of Tempe, and Kelly Brydle (Rich) of Chandler. Also step sons Bob Britton of Lexington NE, Rick Britton of Albuquerque, Randy Britton of Prescott, and Gary Britton of Albuquerque. He is also survived by his 10 grandchildren: David Franklin, Darren Dix, Kristin Hanson, Megan Elston, Jessica Flemming, Maggie Hundley, Claire Smith, Natalie Smith, Steven Brydle and Cara Brydle, as well as 8 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by sisters-in-law Jean Smith of Phoenix, Phyllis Orr of Scottsdale and Phillis Goheen of Mesa, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his sister Lucile Betts and brother Don Smith. A memorial service will be held at Friendship Village, 2625 E. Southern Avenue in Tempe on Saturday, July 28 at 10 am. Contributions can be made to the Arizona Historical Society in lieu of flowers.

Published in The Arizona Republic on July 14, 2012
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