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David Alan Smith, a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather as well as a beloved friend and middle school science teacher, passed away on August 30, 2022. He had just celebrated his 74th birthday with some of his closest friends and family.
Dave was born on August 7, 1948 to Dolores (Borton) and Francis L. Smith. He grew up in Richland, MI as the oldest of four sons. Dave attended Gull Lake High School graduating in 1967. He was a member of its first football team, leading him to Western Michigan University where he played for two years, reluctantly giving up the sport to focus on his studies. He loved the sciences, especially geology, and trained to become a teacher.
In 1970, he married Catherine Roth, whom he had met at WMU. They had two children, Andrew and Amanda, yet also raised Kayla, Amanda’s daughter, who they affectionately referred to as their daughter as well. Living in Schoolcraft, MI, Dave commuted to Mendon, Marcellus and Three Rivers (where he spent the bulk of his career) to teach. While teaching in his early years, he also obtained his master’s degree in science education from WMU. David taught school for 37 years.
He LOVED teaching middle-school kids as he saw a special emerging energy and inventiveness in them, and he understood their humor. Dave’s science classrooms were filled with a variety of plants, rocks and animals including frogs, rats, fish, snakes, hamsters and a parrot named Gracie who had a special column in Dave’s newsletter that gave advice to middle school girls. His hedgehog, Spike, mentored the boys. Dave also made sure to have classical music in the background as well as scented candles to help facilitate students’ concentration. He had many ways of engaging students, and to his credit, some of his students became doctors, nurses or became engaged in other science-oriented occupations, having been inspired by his enthusiasm for science. One former student works for CERN in Geneva on the world’s largest super collider.
While some people knew Dave as a teacher, many people across southern Michigan knew him as a specialist in window treatments. Hundreds of people, including decorators, relied on Dave to hang and fix window treatments which he did as a second job for over 40 years. Dave loved meeting new people, and this job gave him the opportunity to engage with people he may have not met otherwise.
Dave believed in community service. In his younger years, he was a volunteer fireman, a coach and a Sunday school teacher. He was gentle, kind and positive, always seeking out that special light in everyone he met. He had many friends from all walks of life, and he was loved by all of them. He was a good conversationalist and loved engaging in talks about science, current events and World Wars I and II, as well as Michigan’s football and marching band, being a huge fan of both.
David was preceded in death by both parents, his wife, Cathy, his daughter, Amanda, and daughter-in-law, Lori.
He is survived by his son Andrew Smith of Poulsbo, WA; his “daughter” Kayla Smith (Schoolcraft); brothers Jeff Smith (Judy) of Parchment; Steve Smith (Amy Krueger) of Pentwater; and Terry (Wendy) of Bradenton, FL; his partner, Patricia Sulier (Kalamazoo); four grandchildren and two great grandchildren as well as his faithful dog companion, Maggie, and many, wonderful friends.
Dave’s life was a tribute to decency, respect and wonder. He will be so missed.
Memorials in Dave’s name may be made to The Union of Concerned Scientists, Centrica Hospice, or the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center.
While at www.amsfuneralhomes.com please take time to sign David's guestbook and/or share a memory with his family.
The Smith family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes and Cremation Society, 129 South Grand Street, Schoolcraft, MI 49087. 269-679-5622.
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