Willard S. Smith went home to be with the Lord Thursday, April 5, 2018, surrounded by his loving family. He was born September 3, 1928 in Pasadena, California. He and his two sisters were raised by his mother. He also had two half-sisters and a half-brother who preceded him in death.
Against his mother’s wishes, he persisted until she allowed him to leave school and enter the Merchant Marines at age 16. It was an adventure that he cherished all his life. His rank was fireman second class. One of his duties was to lift the heavy shells up the chute so they could be shot off by the National Guardsmen who were also aboard the Victory ship. He says it was one of the loudest noises he ever heard.
Bill was an intensely patriotic man who loved God and his country. After his discharge from the Merchant Marines in 1944 when World War II ended, he began working for the U. S. Forestry Service.
He met his wife Joan at a forestry service party and they began dating. After 5 months, they were married in Yuma, Arizona. They have three children. The oldest David preceded him in death at age 26.
The remaining children are Daniel Smith, (Rose) who resides in Flagstaff, Arizona and Douglas who lives in North Platte, Nebraska. He leaves behind seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
After 10 years in the Forestry Service, Bill went to work for the Los Angeles County Fire Department in California. He was Superintendent of a large helicopter fire crew and also ran hot crews as well as prisoners. His official was that of Captain.
One thing he did not like was having to ride in the helicopter to view the progress of the fires. He had his own bright red pickup complete with a siren, he preferred to drive to the fires and over the mountainous fire roads.
During this time he was very active in helping organize Fire Fighters for Christ in California. He served in several Baptist churches as deacon and Sunday School teacher and enjoyed many years as groundskeeper and maintenance person in the church. The Lord allowed him to have a full, long, useful life as well as a 30-year joyful retirement in different towns in Arizona including Prescott, Camp Verde and finally Cottonwood.
There will be a memorial service at Clarkdale Baptist Church Saturday, April 21 at 11 a.m. followed by a time of fellowship and a light meal.
Information provided by survivors.