Theron Smith

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  • "I'm so sorry for your loss. I worked with Terry, in..."
    - Lyn Childress
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    - SJ Stewart

Lifelong Alaskan Theron Ackerly "Terry" Smith, 62, died in a plane crash near Dillingham on Aug. 9, 2010.

A celebration of his life will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Alaska Airlines hangar, 4100 Old International Airport Road, Anchorage. William MacKay will officiate.

Terry was born Nov. 3, 1947, in Anchorage to Theron Arthur Smith Jr. and Katherine Maran Smith. The Smiths traveled to Anchorage from their home in Bethel for Terry's birth. Two weeks later Theron and Maran flew home with their son Terry in the Bamboo Bomber (Cessna) that Smith owned and flew for Ray Peterson Flying Service.

Terry was proud of his Russian-Aleut heritage. He graduated from East Anchorage High School in 1966. He went on to receive a degree in aeronautical engineering from Northrop Institute of Technology in California.

He was born to fly. He grew up around Alaska's aviation pioneers. Terry and his dad, the aircraft supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service, logged many hours in the Grumman Goose during aerial surveys for wildlife management throughout the state of Alaska.

Terry spent 28 years with Alaska Airlines, retiring in 2007 as Anchorage-based chief pilot. During his distinguished career, flying more than 29,000 hours, Capt. Smith received numerous awards and citations, including, in 2001, the Legend of Alaska Award from Alaska Airlines, the airline's highest honor, recognizing his extraordinary contributions to aviation. He was also the first recipient of the Alaska FAA Flight Standards Pilot Safety Award and was often called upon to speak at aviation safety seminars.

Smith helped melt the "Ice Curtain" by pioneering historic flights to the Russian Far East. He blazed the trail for Alaska Airlines to establish itself as the first U.S. airline to have regularly scheduled flights to Siberia. The Boeing 737-200 that Smith commanded for these historic flights bears his name and is on display at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum.

After his retirement from Alaska Airlines, Terry became the head of aviation for Conoco Phillips Alaska. Terry was also the proud owner of Alaska SkyCraft, where he designed a fuel/cargo pod for the Cessna 180, 182 and 185.

Terry was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He loved his family and friends, enjoyed telling stories, and travel.

He leaves behind his wife, Terri; children, Melanie Malone, Brian and Tanya Smith, Brittini and Lito Talbert, and Megan and Jim Kukuk. He also leaves his grandchildren, Jacob, Jeffrey and Alex Malone, Lito, Svea and Tristan Talbert, and Aiden Kukuk, all of Anchorage; his sister, Arlene and husband Bob Mayfield, and Arene's and Bob's children, Amy and Albert Rollins, Ryan and Stephanie Westendorf, Kory and Chance Tinney, Dusty and Lori Mayfield, and Chris and Stephanie Mayfield; aunts, Sarah Tune, Nancy Still of Big Lake and Shirley Hislop of Nikiski; as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews and dear friends.

The family requests that donations in Terry's memory be sent to the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, 4721 Aircraft Drive, Anchorage 99502.

Published in Anchorage Daily News from Aug. 24 to Aug. 25, 2010
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