Earnest Eugene (Gene) Smith

Gene SmithEarnest Eugene (Gene) Smith, 81, passed away at Lost Rivers Medical Center in Arco on December 31, 2019. During Gene’s final time on this Earth, he was surrounded by his loving family and cared for by Lost Rivers EMTs and the Medical Center’s compassionate staff. Gene was born on July 7, 1938 in Weatherford, Oklahoma to Bill and Bonnie Smith. Gene was sibling to two brothers and two sisters. He graduated from Weatherford High School in 1956 where he lettered in football, received the Foreman Award Trophy, and a scholarship to Southwestern Oklahoma State University, which he ultimately declined.

On April 4th, 1958, Gene married Helen Sue Dorsey. Shortly after that, they moved to Idaho where Gene started working in the sheet metal trade at the Idaho National Laboratory. He graduated from an apprenticeship program to become a Journeyman Sheet Metal Worker in 1961. This construction trade allowed Gene and Sue to live in many Idaho locations while they raised a family of one daughter and two sons.

In his career, Gene applied his trade to many noteworthy buildings, including: EBR II, NRF for Westinghouse, Boise Cascade Building for Detweiler Bros., campus buildings at University of Idaho, Boise State,and Washington State University. He also worked on HVAC projects at Micron in Boise, St. Luke’s Hospital in Hailey, Anheuser Busch in Idaho Falls, and more in Idaho, Washington, and California. One of his last jobs, before retiring, was Butte County High School, in Arco, Idaho. His family can gaze with pride at his handy work every time they are in the gymnasium. He was a member of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association for 61 years and was well-respected by everyone who knew him in the construction industry. The company he spent the longest time with, and who he was working for when he retired was YMC Inc. out of Meridian, Idaho. When Gene and his family were living in Arco the first time, he also worked as a part-time patrolman for the Arco Police Department for several years.

From an early age, Gene always loved fishing with his brothers and relatives. Throughout his adult life, he made regular pilgrimages back to Canton Lake in Oklahoma to fish for walleye, bass, and catfish. Gene enjoyed raising, training, and racing thoroughbred horses. He also chariot raced in Arco in the 1960’s. Gene passed down his love of fishing, camping, and horses to his children and grandchildren. Gene and Sue were very fond of taking their granddaughters on swimming and camping trips to Challis Hot Springs in their motorhome. “Papa” Gene never missed an opportunity to attend his grand and great-grand children’s ballgames, track meets, dance recitals, rodeos, 4-H shows, and moves to and from college. After he retired, Gene became an avid gardener, known for his tomato starts and home-made salsa. He generously supported numerous fundraisers and many community projects.

Gene is survived by his children Sheila Wood (Chip); Shawn Smith (Sandie); and Shane Smith; all from Arco. His beautiful granddaughters are Lexi Gamett, Sari Jayo, Ashley Curtis, Cassi Wood, and Wylee Smith. He leaves behind nine great-grandchildren. He has one surviving sister, Loretta Almand, and one surviving brother, Johnny Smith, both of Weatherford, Oklahoma. He was preceded in death by his parents, his older brother, Charles, his younger sister, Mary Ellen, and his wife of 59 years, Sue.

Under the direction of Anderson Family Funeral Home, Gene was cremated and will be buried next to his wife at Hillcrest Cemetery in Arco, Idaho. A Celebration of Life will be held on a date to be determined during the summer of 2020.