Click on the link for Brian Smith’s Eulogy to Elmer Smith:
Keith Smith’s Eulogy to Elmer Smith:
The Saturday before my Grandfather passed, we had the following conversation.
Keeping with his wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humor, grandpa mused, “Right now I’m about as useful as a frozen fish in a box.”
Trying to reassure him I replied, “Grandpa, you can relax now because you’ve done a great job of taking care of us, now we’re here to take care of you.”
His face suddenly brightened, his eyes locked onto mine and in a very tired but satisfied voice he replied, “Keith, I’ve been taking care of you my entire life.”
At first I thought these were just some confused words, mixed up a bit by the fog of senility. But as I pondered them more, I began to realize that these are words that were not only true but they were also quite profound.
Leaving a lasting legacy is something that we all want to do when we depart from this earth, and today we celebrate a man who left not just a single legacy, but many wonderful, living breathing legacies. That legacy is embodied in each and every one of us here; his offspring, his friends, those who he touched, those who he influenced, those who he witnessed to, and those that he helped.
People are Grandpa’s legacy. We are his legacy. And he has been taking care of each of us his entire life.
My Grandfather is the embodiment of a live well lived. He worked hard, showered love on those around him, displayed an impeccable – if not impossible – example of how to live, and at an early age found a love that would last longer than an average lifetime. Of course Grandpa didn’t live an average life, so an average lifespan just wouldn’t do. Having outlived his Sweetheart became his life’s greatest challenge, and he once again showed us all how to face adversity with grace, humility, love and a equal helping of spit, vinegar, tenacity and stubbornness.
He loved his Ruby like no other, and was never more vocal about it than after she passed. So today I feel as if we are finally saying goodbye to both of them. Two lives, lived absolutely wonderfully.
One of many parting gifts my Grandfather left me was to bless each of my children during his last days. He pulled them near, held their hands tightly and began, “I want you to remember me as a wise, kind old man. I know that will be hard.” With that simple statement he reminded all of us of how important it is to laugh – especially at ourselves – and then went on to provide my children, his legacy, with a special blessing that I know they will each hold in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
The question for each of us now is, what will we do to respect and honor the life of Elmer Bennett Smith? How will we live our lives? Will we do justice to Grandpa’s legacy and the life he lived for 97 years so that each of us could be here today. He has been taking care of us for his entire life, now it is our turn.
We love you Grandpa, and we’ll see you at the gates.
Chris Zorne’s Eulogy
When my grandmother, Grandpa Elmer’s wife Ruby, was dying, the nice folks at Hospice sent various people to check on her and on Grandpa Elmer. Grandpa Elmer and I sat at his dining room table with one of hospice’s mental health workers one day. Her job as she saw it that day was to tell Grandpa Elmer steps in preparing for death. Grandpa leaned forward and said words to the effect of “The only thing you need to know is that your heart is right with God. Poor lady tried to patronizingly interrupt him with “yes that’s right but… Grandpa pressed on, “the only way to do that is to accept Jesus into your heart. Jesus said I Am The Way The Truth and The Life.” I could see the outmatched worker getting nervous and my character flaw (o.k. one of) is I really like to win. Nervousness is like blood in the water so I sat forward in my chair. She responded with, “many people have many have many different beliefs”. She was beginning to pack her things. Grandpa Elmer pressed his point, “Jesus said No one comes to the Father but by me.” She stood and said, “well, it is good you have something to believe in at a time like this.” I saw she was thoroughly beaten. Grandpa was winning this was a great time to jump in. “I think what my Grandpa is trying to ask,” I declared, “is do you have a relationship with Jesus?” She was already part way out the door and said something, I don’t remember what to dismiss me, and hurried away. I turned back to Grandpa excited about the big fish we’d had on but Grandpa didn’t look like someone who had just fought with a big fish and lost it. No, Grandpa looked like a man who had struggled to pull someone into a life raft and had them slip out of his grasp at the last moment.
Grandpa loved his sons and his grandchildren and he had many people to whom he was a good friend. We can hardly imagine it, as big a role as we all remember him playing in our lives, but there were two relationships that dwarfed the relationships he had with all of us. The second was his relationship with his beloved wife Ruby; a relationship that lasted 75 years. It was important to Grandpa that we all honor her. Grandpa always without exception was thinking of her before himself. Remarkably she always thought of him first. The only time I ever heard Grandpa speak crossly to Grandma is once when she interrupted me while I was explaining to her how important it was to all of us who loved her for her to go the doctor. He told her to “be quiet and let him finish what he’s saying.” I was so shocked I could hardly remember what I was saying. The next day my Cousin Amber successfully got her to the doctor. A few short weeks later Ruby went to be with Jesus who occupied that coveted spot of being Grandpa Elmer’s first most important relationship.
Grandpa took every opportunity he had to tell his family, friends and everyone he met about Jesus. He told everyone from the medical staff treating him for a heart attack in the hospital to the man who delivered his death bed. Grandpa probably even told Pastor Bob about Jesus. In his last days Grandpa asked all his offspring and everyone who visited if they were walking with Jesus. Would they see him in heaven? When he received a positive response he would relax and praise the Lord. Of all the amazing things about my grandfather which I am leaving to my family to tell you why would I tell you what I have? My answer is this. To prepare you for the one story my Grandfather Elmer would want me to tell. You were born a sinner as was I. You may not like to hear that but it is true. It is one of the many ways our Declaration of Independence is true: We were all born or created equal; Lost without God. Because of our separation from God we were all born dead. It doesn’t matter if our heart is still beating without Jesus we are dead. If I asked Grandpa for thirty words to tell you I believe he would instruct me to quote Jesus, “I am the Resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” If you are here and don’t know Jesus the way Grandpa Elmer did, he prayed and lived a life hoping that you would. If you do know Jesus, Grandpa Elmer prayed and lived a life hoping you would actively share that knowledge with others.
Elmer Bennett Smith – Obituary
ELMER BENNETT SMITHElmer Bennett Smith, 97, of Phoenix, Ore., passed away at the home of his son, Lloyd Smith, in Longview, Wash., on December 15, 2010. Elmer was born on January 3, 1913, on Big Bear Ridge, Idaho to Aaron Victor and Gertrude Bennett Smith. He grew up just outside of Glacier National Park in the tiny railroad town of Essex, Mont. Elmer moved to Los Angeles, Calif., in 1928, to attend high school. After graduating from Belmont High School in 1932, Elmer spent a winter mining gold on Idaho’s Salmon River before rejoining his family in Kalispell, Mont. It was in Kalispell, during the Depression, that he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, and in Kalispell that he first walked Ruby Helen Rasmussen, the love of his life, home from a church service. They had been together for 75 years when Ruby passed away on February 2, 2008, at the age of 91. In 1939, wanting to escape the bitter winters of Montana, Elmer and Ruby moved to Southern California to seek warmth, education, and better job opportunities. As they drove into L.A. to begin their new life on September 1, newspaper headlines declared that Britain and France had declared war on Germany. After completing a course on airplane design at California Flyers, Elmer was hired by Douglas Aircraft Corporation as a tool and die maker. For the next five years, Elmer worked on developing some of the most famous aircraft of World War II. Their twin sons, Larry Bennett and Lloyd Christian, were born in 1940.Desiring to raise their boys on a small farm, Elmer and Ruby moved from Los Angeles to the outskirts of Phoenix, Ore., June of 1945. Elmer bought some farmland, a mill, and a stand of timber and from these humble materials, he built a house for his family and a home for the generations that followed. Along with his farming, Elmer worked as a machinist for Tucker SnoCat, Kliever’s Machine Shop and Knapp’s Machine Shop until his retirement. Elmer and his family attended Ashland Christian Center for three decades. Elmer helped build the new church building and served for many years on the official church board. Later in their lives, Elmer and Ruby attended Harvest Baptist Temple in Medford.Elmer continued to live on his small farm in Phoenix for 64 years until he moved north to Longview, Wash., to live with his son, Lloyd, in 2009. Elmer had a genius for fixing things. His home was full of reused items which had passed through his machine shop, his scarred hands reshaping them into something better. His passion in life was to see each member of his family, and every one of those with whom he came in contact, come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Since the death of his beloved wife two years ago, Elmer had longed to rejoin her in the company of his Lord. He is survived by his twin sons, Larry and Lloyd, and their wives Linda and Helen; seven grandchildren, Kenneth, Brian, and Keith Smith, Amber Shields, Jeanne Jackson, Chris Zornes, and Jose Marroquin; and 15 great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Saturday, December 18, 2010, at the First Presbyterian Historic Church in Jacksonville, Ore. at 3:00 p.m. A second memorial service will be held Tuesday, December 21, 2010, at Steele Chapel, in Longview, Wash., at 11:00 a.m. Dahl-McVicker Funeral Home, of Longview, Wash., is in charge of the arrangements. Interment will be at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Medford, Oregon.