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James Smith

1929 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
James Smith Obituary
Smith, Col. James R., US Army, Ret.

Colonel James Richard Smith, US Army, Retired, passed away on April 17, 2017. He was born to Junius R. and Marie F. Smith on June 21, 1929, in Manhattan, NY. He spent his early childhood years in Brooklyn and West Hempstead, Long Island. The family moved to Alexandria, VA before his father was stationed overseas in Europe with the US Army to assist with the post WWII Marshall Plan. Rich, himself a college student on summer duty in 1950 as an enlisted reservist when Korea was invaded, opted to remain in the Army and apply to Officer Candidate School. Commissioned as an infantry officer at Ft. Benning, GA, he was posted overseas to Korea, where he saw combat as a platoon leader with the famed 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhounds). Before his tour of duty in Korea, Rich met his future wife Frances Witham while both were members of the St. Patrick's Church choir in Washington D.C. They were married in 1951 and had six children together.

He was subsequently commissioned in the regular army and entered the nuclear weapons program at Sandia Base, which became his home station, and from which he developed a love for New Mexico and the Southwest. Further assignments with his growing family included Hawaii, a second hardship tour in Korea, the Army General Staff and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, and Bangkok, Thailand. His decorations include the Legion of Merit. He was most fond of his Infantry Badge, but most proud of his Meritorious Service Medal.

He is predeceased by Frances Witham Smith, his wife of 54 years, and their infant son, Daniel Croghan Smith. He is survived by his children, Marian Ciepiela and husband, Steve Ciepiela of Albuquerque, NM, Anne Smith and husband, Jason Smith of Berthoud, CO, Madolyn Osborne and husband, Mark Osborne of Toronto, Canada, Mark R. Smith of Los Angeles, CA, and David A. Smith and wife, Michele Smith, of Castle Pines, CO. Grandchildren include Adam Ciepiela and wife, Misty Ciepiela of Albuquerque; Annemarie Henton and husband, Mark Henton of Albuquerque; John Ciepiela and fiancee, Allison Ward, of Portland, OR; Abigail and Eliza Osborne of Toronto, Canada; Natalie Smith of Castle Pines, CO; and Lily and Clara Smith of Berthoud, CO. He leaves one great-grandson, Aiden Ciepiela, step-great-grandsons, Collin and Nolan Henton; and his beloved Samoyed, Tonka.

Rich will be remembered for his love of music and the beautiful tenor voice he sustained throughout his life, for his wit, storytelling, mastery of jokes, infectious humor and remarkable sharpness of mind. He was also inordinately generous to his family and community.

The family wishes to thank the Ambercare staff and the staff at OnPointe for their constant and vigilant care. A thank you, also, to Special Live In Care owner Margaret Fell, and Penpa, for their friendship and assistance.

Rich is being laid to rest, with full military honors, at Santa Fe National Cemetery next to his wife and son. A memorial reception will be held on Friday, April 28, 2017, 4:00-7:00 p.m., at the family home. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Rich's name to Paws and Stripes,

[email protected]

in remembrance of his beloved dogs and the US Military. Please visit our online guestbook for Col. Smith at

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Apr. 26, 2017
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