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Daniel's Story

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Daniel A. Smith, of Downers Grove, Ill., formerly of Hermitage, passed away Saturday, July 15, 2017, surrounded by his family after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 67.
He is survived by his mother, Evelyn Williams and husband, Francis; his wife, Theresa; daughter, Samantha; daughters, Casey and Danielle and husband, Joe; four brothers, Jack Smith and wife Marlene, Tom Smith and wife, Trisha, Jeff Smith and wife, Chris, and Steve Smith; sister, Susan Swingle and husband Donald.
I thought a memorial service would be easier. In the years we had together I have so many wonderful memories and stories about Dan. I can't capture them all.
He loved his family. He chatted with his mom every Sunday and kept in touch with the rest of them as often as he could.
He loved his country. He was drafted, but volunteered for Vietnam. He was in Vietnam from December of 1969 until October 1970. He was honorably discharged with many service awards especially marksmanship. He served twice as commander of VFW Post 503. He was well-respected and liked.
He loved his friends those he had known since he was a kid and those he made when he came to Chicago. He loved fishing and riding with his buddy Greg, riding with Weasel and Rob and shooting with his buddy Rod. He loved the laughter and camaraderie with them all. He called them brother. When you became Dan's friend you were a friend for life.
He loved back home Shenango Valley (western Pa./Pennslytucky as he called it), very different than the East. This is where he grew up with limited means, but rich in so very many, many ways. Not easy, but surrounded by family and good friends.
He loved a good ride on his motorcycle: the fat boy, dresser, and the trike he bought when he was feeling well. He loved to ride in the West, the South, the North, the East, but always loved the hills and valleys back home the most.
He loved a good glass of scotch, a shot of Malort, a good meal with a bottle of wine and food with friends and family.
He loved beekeeping, his garden, his dogs, sitting on the swing in the front yard watching the world go by while waiting for me to get off the train or sitting on the patio early in the morning having coffee with me.
He loved his work. He had unparalleled work ethic. He worked hard and played hard.
He loved life. He told my daughter, Samantha that, "if you are afraid to die, you are afraid to live," when her dad was worried about her scuba diving with sharks. He told her not to let that make her fearful. He would tilt his head with a little smirk while listening or finding something amusing.
There was a quote at the Edward Cancer Center by Maya Angelou that he also loved: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
We all are complicated individuals, but as the Lynyrd Skynyrd song goes, "Dan was a simple kind of man."
He had learned to not live too fast (he had rolled a number of cars when he was young). He had troubles that came and eventually passed (he survived Vietnam, he had lost jobs, and fell ill) but, he never forgot his maker, the man upstairs.
He was a simple kind of man, he understood others, understood himself and loved himself for who he was and where he came from. He always said to me, "if you know where I come from, you will know me" and that was very true. But most of all he was deeply satisfied in the end because he finally found a woman by way of a crooked path with whom he was deeply in love and who was deeply in love with him.
Thank you all.
Memorial service will be held 11 a.m., Aug. 5, 2017, at West Middlesex Presbyterian Church, followed by a luncheon. Celebration of life to be held following the luncheon at the residence of Jeff Smith, 2725 Spencer Road, Hermitage, with a dinner to follow.
Published on July 25, 2017
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