George F. Smith’s life of curiosity ended too soon on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, at the age of 93, surrounded by his loving family after a short illness.
Memorial services are 10:00 AM, on Saturday, October 23, 2021 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Yankton with Reverend Bob Lacey officiating. The Mass will be live streamed and can be viewed at www.facebook.com/WintzRay. Burial will be in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Yankton with military honors performed by the Ernest-Bowyer VFW Post No. 791. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church. Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Yankton.
The family would prefer memorials to be directed to The Center at 900 Whiting Dr, Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 509 Capital St, or Avera Sister James Care Center at 2111 W. 11th St, all in Yankton, SD 57078.
Pallbearers will be his grandchildren: Jill Pekoske, Eric Weisser, JoLee Smith, Dallas Smith, Katie Hennen, Katelyn Gaspers and Sam Gaspers.
George was born January 11, 1928, in Rochester Minnesota and moved to Yankton as an infant. He grew up in the great Depression or what he always called “Hard Times”. He learned to help his family by collecting bits of coal that fell off passing freight trains, he also rode his bike across the newly opened Meridian bridge, to pick wild plums to make jam preserves. He graduated from Yankton High School in 1945 and enlisted in the US Army where he was stationed with the 2ND Calvary Division as a combat engineer in the post-war occupation of Japan. After discharge in 1949, George attended Yankton College where he joined the army reserves. He was recalled to active duty in 1950 for service in the Korean War. He was a Quartermaster Supply Sergeant overseeing a massive fuel depot near the front lines. He returned to Yankton after discharge where he worked for Northwestern Public Service and then began a career with the US Postal Service that spanned 30 years. He began as a postal clerk and rose to the position of Superintendent of Mails, he also served briefly as postmaster of Gayville and Lesterville post offices.
He married Lena Mae Broome on April 11, 1955, the beginning of a 44 year marriage that ended with her death in December 1999. George and Lena Mae were blessed with four children Kathy, Mike, Tony and Pat. The youngest Pat was born with severe handicap, but the family adjusted.
George loved tinkering and he restored a 1928 Model T Ford, which was driven in many parades, as well as building a replica 1908 Oldsmobile, which he used as a Christmas decoration. Antique auto was only one of George’s passions, he would later take up amateur radio, learning Morse code at the age of 48, serving as president of the Turkey Ridge Amateur Radio Club. He moved on to radio-controlled planes and then created his own world with a model train layout intending to recreate the Yankton of his youth. From there he moved on to learn the art of home brewing and loved being able to show off his latest batch. He grew his own hops using his 50-foot radio antenna to support the vine. George also dabbled in kite flying, watercolor painting and tried to learn to play the piano, proudly mastering the Happy Birthday song. He was an avid fisherman traveling to Canada with buddies. George loved building things out of wood. He crafted a phaser gun and tricorder for Star Trek fan, Pat, and built stilts and skateboards for all the neighborhood kids.
George found love a second time, marrying JoAnn Pieper on February 14, 2012. They were a devoted couple who enjoyed going to church and meeting friends at the Senior Citizen Center. They were married 8 years when JoAnn passed away on May 8, 2020.
George is survived by his three children: Kathy (Bob) Weisser of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Mike (Betty) Smith of Pierre, South Dakota and Tony (Lori) Smith of Princeton, Minnesota; seven grandchildren; six great grandchildren; four stepchildren: Wanda Mueller of Yankton, Linda (Loren) Knittel of Spearfish, South Dakota; Sandra Travnicek of Yankton and Mike (Laurie) Pieper of Yankton; along with many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Lena Mae Smith; son, Pat Smith; wife, JoAnn Pieper Smith and brothers Frank Carter and Butch Carter.