Cover photo for Stephen J. Smith's Obituary
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1970 Stephen 2023

Stephen J. Smith

June 18, 1970 — February 19, 2023

Adel, Iowa

Stephen J. Smith, age 52, of Adel, Iowa, and formerly of Yankton, South Dakota, passed away Sunday, February 19, 2023, as the result of a vehicle accident in Audubon County, Iowa.

A memorial service will be 2:00 PM on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton, South Dakota.  The service will be live streamed and can be viewed at  Burial will be in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Yankton.  The family will receive friends one hour prior to the memorial service on Wednesday at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home.

Stephen Joseph Smith, son of Joseph F. and Leah M. Smith, was born on June 18, 1970 in Sioux City, Iowa. He moved to Yankton as a young boy and graduated from Sacred Heart School in 1984.  Steve graduated with honors from Yankton Senior High School in 1988. During his high school experience, Steve was the star of several theatrical productions, the debate team, and multiple choirs. In the fall of 1988, Steve attended St. John’s University near St. Cloud, Minnesota. There, he earned a bachelor of arts in English and Humanities, and he was also active in many academic and extra-curricular programs, most notably as a thundering bass in the infamous St. John’s Men’s Chorus. At St. John’s, Steve forged many deep friendships, and he met and soon-after married the love of his life, Claire (Meysenburg). Claire and Steve spent their years together living in Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, and Iowa. 

Singing would always be Steve’s passion. He was equally impressive on stage, in the choir box, or on a karaoke machine. After college, Steve took his voice on tour with the professional a cappella group he co-founded, "Tonic Solfa”, a group that still tours today. Eventually he chose to spend his time at home with Claire, but he always continued to bring joy to the world through singing.

Steve was a very gifted writer. After beginning to read and write at the age of 2, Steve showed boundless potential with a pencil and later with the keyboard. He wrote highly anticipated, witty articles for his high school newspaper, and his creative writing was the stuff of legends. Steve was also a gifted orator. He was known for his deep rich voice that delivered a Samurai mastery of the English language. He applied these talents as a gifted disc-jockey, actor, debater, and public speaker.

For a self-proclaimed introvert, Steve developed deep and lasting friendships in every stage of his life. His humor was the source of countless breathless belly laughs in his social engagements. When Steve was not working or attending classes, he and Claire would often travel with friends, volunteer for missions in Mexico, sing in the choir or perform service work in their church. Steve was deeply loved by his nieces and nephews with whom he shared endless silly uncle antics and laughter. Steve was a devoted husband, son, brother, uncle, godparent, and friend to just about everyone who took the time to get to know him. He made an impression on people.

He is survived by his mother Leah Smith of Yankton; wife, Claire Smith of Des Moines, Iowa; brother, Paul (Jodi) Smith of Yankton; sister, Julia Smith (Samia Estassi) of Taos, NM; sister, Sarah Smith of Seattle, Washington; and several nieces and nephews. 

He is preceded in death by his father Joseph and his grandparents.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Stephen J. Smith, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm

Wintz & Ray Funeral Home – Yankton

2901 Douglas Ave, Yankton, SD 57078


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The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service.

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