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Richard Lee "Dick" Smith


1929 - 2020
Richard Lee "Dick" Smith Obituary
Richard Lee "Dick" Smith

Phoenix - Richard Lee "Dick" Smith at 90 years young went to the great Machine Shop in the Sky on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Dick was born in Kinsley, Kansas on October 3, 1929 to proud parents Leoma May Trotter Smith and Clayborne Thomas Smith. In 1939, at the age of ten, Dick's wheat farming father drove the family to Phoenix, Arizona to better the health of his younger brother, 7 year old Wendell who struggled with Asthma.

Dick's hobbies as a kid were model airplanes and kites. His FIRST friend here in Phoenix, at the age of ten was Raymond Kingston, now 90. Dick attended Balsz Elementary School & Graduated Phoenix Union High School. He went on to attend Phoenix Technical School from 1946 through 1947, and in 1948 received his Aircraft Engine Mechanic Diploma.

Dick's first job was in 1946 as an usher at the first Phoenix Drive-In Movie Theatre, right down the street from his home. It was a family affair as his Mother helped the owner, Mr. Anderson, run the ticket office and his Dad handled property repairs to keep the theatre running like a well-oiled machine. Dick also worked as a painter & later did construction work on earliest Sky Harbor runway, before joining the Army in 1951. He was a Pfc in the Infantry, Company "D", stationed in Germany and served until 1953.

Dick took full advantage of the GI Bill when he got back home! He attended ASC, AZ State College (NOW ASU) in 1954 and graduated in 1958. He completed his Masters of Art in Education in 1961 after logging 260 credit hours. He was an assistant teacher of Aeronautics & Ceramics at ASU. But Dick's true calling was as an Industrial Arts instructor at Sunnyslope and Central High Schools. His fun personality, interesting teaching skills and everyday hands-on instructional Metal Shop classes attracted students from all over the Valley. He was well respected & adored by his many students over the years, like a father to some. Many have said that a library of knowledge burned down upon his death.

Dick met his future wife, Judith Ann Fernyhough in a ceramics class at ASU. They married in 1965. Together they rescued and loved many doggies over the years and truly thought of them as their "kids". Dick & Judy were true artists, who shared a common love for pottery and started their own business known as The Mud-Dauber. Dick's large pottery pieces took many awards at the Arizona State Fair over the years.

But Dick's true PASSION was fulfilled when he was building antique Ford cars on a shoe string budget, which made it even more satisfying. He was a Hot Rodder at heart! Dick made many cars throughout his lifetime. A 1927 Model T Ford Coupe for his wife, a 1932 Ford Tudor Sedan, along with his famous 1932 Highboy Roadster, which he built & drove for 38 years. The Henry Ford Museum was seeking a true period correct 32 and persuaded Dick to sell his Roadster in 1987. It's a true example of a typical home built street rod. Dick's 32 is displayed in the HF museum "Driving for Fun" section and enjoyed by all to this day.

Dick was a Jack-of-all-trades, a wealth of knowledge & creativity. He could make absolutely anything and he took great personal pride in making it without having to buy any materials or spend much money on his projects. Dick designed & meticulously made many antique '32 Ford dashboards along with many other custom car parts. He was always the first to offer help to anyone, he never had an enemy, and he never met a stranger. Dick will be remembered with a smile on his face and a funny story or joke to share with anyone that would listen.

Dick was preceded in death by his parents Clayborne "CT" Smith and Leoma Smith along with his brother Wendell Smith, as well as his very creative, artist wife of 52 years, Judy Smith.

He is survived by his Sister in Law Shelby Smith: Niece Mitzi Dee Dooley (Tom): Grandnephew Dustin Dooley: Grandniece Jessica Marie Brock (Keith): Great Grandnephews Clayborne and Arthur Brock: Sister in Laws Shirley Manoz (Felix) and Lynn Atkinson (Bill): nephews Tom & Ted Atkinson.

At this time the family would like to request that everyone abide by recommendations from the government & health officials to stay safe. We look forward to a Celebration of Life Memorial in the very near future to celebrate Dick Smith's amazing life and the impact he had on so many lives.

In Lieu of flowers donations may be made in Dick's honor to Canyon Animal Hospital: 15411 N. 31st ST, Phoenix, AZ 85032 canyonanimalhospitalphoenix.com.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Mar. 19 to Mar. 22, 2020
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