FLORENCE — Dr. Richard Smith passed away peacefully on Thursday June 17, 2021 at his home with his dog Pearl at his side. He was born on July 2, 1933 in Chariton, Iowa to Glenn and Lucille Smith. He liked to brag that he was born in a jail. His Mother couldn’t get to the Hospital quick enough and the jail was the closest thing at hand for him to be born safely. Richard grew up in rural Iowa and graduated from Fairfield High School in 1951. His budding art career started in High School where he was a Cartoonist with the High School Paper. He played football in High School as well receiving a scholarship at a small Iowa college. He turned that down because he wanted to pursue art at the University of Iowa. His dream was to be an Editorial Cartoonist for a major newspaper. His dad pressed upon him eventually that art and drawing cartoons for a living was a ticket to starvation, so he started looking for another career option. He discovered Dentistry and chose that for a career. He used to say, he chose Dentistry because he had a school job where he worked around the Dental School and noted the Dental students seemed to be having so much fun that he wanted to pursue that profession. Along about that time, he met Lorraine M. Casper, a nursing student at the University of Iowa, who later became his wife. He said he was first attracted to her because of her beautiful eyes. They married in 1955 while he was in Dental School. His oldest son J.D. was born in his third year of Dental School. He used to say that he and his Dental buddies played a lot of poker his last year of Dental School with baby J.D. sitting at the table in his highchair and Lori working to support the family as an OB Nurse.
After Dental School Lorraine and Richard moved to Keokuk, Iowa where he began private practice. His second child, Stuart, was born there. While in Keokuk, Richard was drafted into the military. There was a doctor’s draft during the Vietnam War and his number came up. Richard and family were sent to Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota where he worked as a General Dentist from 1961 to 1964. After serving his obligation, he and the family moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa where he had his own practice. He later decided to join the Veterans Administration Hospital as a General Dentist. In that capacity, he served at the Veterans Facilities at Chillicothe, Ohio, Marion, Indiana, and lastly in Indianapolis, Indiana where he finished out his Dental career as the Chief of Dental Services in Marion and Indianapolis. In Indianapolis, he also was an Associate Instructor at the Indiana University Dental School. His assignment at the Dental School was in the area of making dentures for patients. He said he was good at thinking three dimensionally.
After retiring, Richard and Lori moved to Florence. He moved there because he fell in love with the Florence area and the southern hospitality even though he was accused of being a “Damn Yankee”, because he and Lori stayed. Having grandkids there had a little something to do with it, he later told the family. Richard and Lori loved to travel. They had a summer cabin in Colorado where they went every Summer for 15 years. He had a love for RV’s as well. He convinced his wife to embark in this way to travel. They traveled all over the United States in their RV. He said all the time that he had the best copilot in the world in his wife, Lori. Richard and Lori were quite active in a local Shoals RV chapter and loved the comradery with the other people in the RV group.
Richard’s artistic side never faded, even though he changed his career path. He had a strong artistic side and was an Internationally Syndicated Cartoonist. He was the creator of the Cartoon Strip “Shadow Mischief” in the 1960’s. His strip appeared in 90 newspapers both in the United States and in Europe. He later turned his art talents to watercolor paintings. He was active in the Shoals art community where he served as President of the chapter for seven years. He won numerous awards for paintings through the years both in Indianapolis and in Florence. In his watercolor paintings, he loved to highlight clouds and was often known as the “cloud artist”.
Richard was all about family. He loved his wife, children, and grandchildren dearly. He always placed them first above anything and was extremely proud of them. He liked to say all the time “family first”. He loved dogs as well and said he could never remember not having a dog by his side even to the last of his days. Little Pearl his last dog was his favorite even though she never minded him. Richard’s faith and service to God was important to him. He taught many bible classes, religious education through the years as well as diligent a student of the word. He used to tell J.D. and Anna when eating with them at night that he had to excuse himself early because he needed to go study. He believed in volunteering as well as giving back to his community. He worked with the local Meals on Wheels program, St. Vincent’s DePaul, and volunteered his time teaching art classes. He was kind and respectful to everyone, and was never known to say a hurtful word.
He will be sorely missed by his family, but especially his grandkids who were the apple of his eye. They loved staying with “Cho Grandpa” as he was affectionately called. He loved hanging out with them, attending all their activities, telling funny stories that happened, and teaching them about life in his gentle manner. He was very proud of all his grandkids and stood ten feet tall at his grandson’s (Jack) white coat ceremony at his alma mater the University of Iowa Dental School.
Richard was preceded in death by his loving wife Lorraine M. Smith of 63 years; his infant son, Stephen Thomas; his sister, Janice Palm; and his parents, Glenn and Lucille Smith.
Richard is survived by his two children, Dr. J.D. Smith (and wife Anna) of Florence and Dr. Stuart Smith (and wife Ingrid Van Duyne) of Madison, Wisconsin. Grand children are - Jack (University of Iowa), Scott, Mark and Tricia who live in Florence, and attend the University of Auburn.
Visitation for Richard will be on Monday, 21 June, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., at St. Joseph Catholic Church, with rosary to follow. The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, 22 June, at 10:00 a.m., in the church sanctuary, with the Reverend John O’Donnell and Reverend Roy Runkle officiating. Burial will take place in the Greenview Memorial Cemetery.
Honorary Pallbearers for Richard are Scott Smith, Mark Smith, Stephen Palm, Matthew Joly, Harold Joly, and Jacob Parasiliti.
The family would like thank Dr. Paul Morris and Dr. David Bachofer for the loving and thoughtful care they provided to their Dad.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to St. Joseph Catholic School, 115 Plum Street, Florence, AL, 35630.