Louie Smith, a much admired and loved logger in both Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties died on March 12, 2011 at the age of 99. So many donations came into the Logging Museum in his name that we knew he must have been someone special.We received a copy of his grand-daughter’s eulogy and are reproducing it here. Remember that these are notes for her speech, so grammer, spelling, and sentence construction may not be what they would have been if she had known we were going to publish them.
My Granps was the best thing since sliced bread…except that sliced bread wasn’t invented until he was 14 in 1928.
I recently composed a list of many monumental events that occurred in my grandpa’s lifetime. I would like to share a few of them with you to help put into perspective what a person who had the privilege of living 99 years has seen in their lifetime.
To start with, the year he was born, the Titanic sank.
He lived through World Wars 1 and 2, Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Afghanistan.
Invention of the automobile
Witnessed the invention of Flight and Space travel
Was around for the invention of Radio, TV, cell phones (and he had one!) and computers
Rise and fall of Communism
Babe Ruth’s homerun record
AND the discovery and downgrade of planet Pluto ……… to name just a few.
Another phenomenon about Gramps was that he had lived through the leadership of 18…. yes 18 Presidents. If you can name them all in chronological order I will buy you a delicious tri-tip meal at the Senior Center in a few hours.
My guess is many of us in life remember our grand parents with love and fondness, but our grandpa was extree special. That’s how he liked to pronounce extra.
He was extree special becuase of his partnerships in life.
As a boy growing up in New Pine Creek, OR and around Modoc County, he had a partnership with the mountains and the wildlife that he hunted his whole life. All of his grandkids and his oldest great-grandsons have spent time hunting with him on Sugar Hill and Pine Creek Canyon. I remember his last trip down the mountain. I had the privilege of hunting alongside him and carrying his gun. At that time, he was well into his 80’s and was focused on the rigorous and steep 5 hour hike. Knowing that I could help by carrying his rifle gave us a chance to be partnerrs in that journey. He knew we were both helping each other though as I woke up with the stomach flu that day and fought my own battles down the mountain. As he successfully shot his buck near the bottom the twinkle in his eye danced when all of the other hunters gathered around him to show off his success. Each of us grandkids and great grandkids has very special memories of Gramps in Modoc. It was a place where many of his life’s memories were made and a place where he loved to revisit.
During prohibition he had a partnership that was daring and thrilling. He and a few buddies made moonshine and would secretly sell it to the the local townsfolk during the big community dances. After watching the men take a few swigs then stash the bottles in the bushes, he would raid the bushes and re-sell to the same clientele. One night after his dad had just enjoyed a secret swig, he asked his dad if he liked the whiskey. His dad admitted yes, and gramps proudly declared he had made the stuff himself. I am not sure what partnership developed at that point but something tells me there was one.
Gramps grew up in the logging business. In his early years he worked in the mill at Willow Ranch, then he and his brother started a partnership. They pooled their money and with one of them selling his car they had enough money to buy one logging truck. At this time, the 2 families shared the 1 car. Later they pooled their money again to buy a second logging truck. In that partnership, Grandpa did all of the mechanicing and Uncle Check did all the bookkeeping. He formed partnerships back then in the business sense as well as a committment to his job to make a living for he and Grams as a newly married couple. Dad and Uncle Layne also enjoyed partnerships with Grandpa. Whether it was a formal business partnership as evidenced by L and R Trucking and later Smithco, or a partnership borne out of similar interests and passions, Dad and Uncle Layne enjoyed many amazing years having Louis Smith as their dad.
Friends were important to my grandparents and that means so many of you here today. Friends were gathered all along the way….New Pine Creek, Bly, Westwood, Susanville, Redding, Weaverville, Davis Creek, Cottonwood, Mineral, Eureka, Foresthill, back to Weaverville, Red bluff, Arnold, Avery, Jamestown, and Sonora. Via their kids, their grand-kids, neighbors, those in logging, those who enjoyed poker or hunting trips, horseshoes, and swimming in their backyard, traveling with the dirty dozen or traveling anywhere, long-time friends, or a new friend: you were all so important. And you provided many good memories along the way. When Grams and Gramps weren’t spending time with the family, they were enjoying time with friends.
Family was grandpa’s greatest partnership. As a father, he loved unconditionally and enjoyed having 2 sons who were uniquely their own person. Granpa stayed well-connected to his children and was always available to talk, help, and be an active part of their lives. He enjoyed time with them one on one and together. Many hunting trips, fishing trips, logging expereiences and holidays were enjoyed with his boys and their families. He truly enjoyed a friendship and love for his sons and their families. Well all you other grandkids, I would say we were pretty darn lucky our grandparents had our dads! Every one of us in this room knows of the magical and lifelong partnership Grandpa formed with Grandma. Beginning with their early days as a young family, Grandpa receiving word while he was in the woods that his children would soon be born and to hurry up and head home, devoting and risking so much to start a business that ended up very successful, to traveling to all 50 states, enjoying life, enjoying work, to care-giving for the woman he loved for over 75 years, they were true partners in every sense of the word. I am willing to bet they never missed a good-night kiss to one another.
As I reflect back on the list I shared with you at the beginning about all of the monumental historical events that Gramps has seen, one thing always struck me about my grandpa. With all of the history he had witnessed, he remained a modern man. Modern in his thinking, the way he reacted or didn’t react to things and his ability to be non-judgemental. When I stop and think about it, perhaps his partnership with life was about just that: living and loving.
Thank you for being here today and celebrating the remarkable life of my grandpa.