John Emanuel Smith of Allen, Texas passed away on Friday, November 27, 2020 at the age of 79.
John was a devoted husband to his beloved, late wife, Marsha Smith, for 49 years. He was a hardworking and caring father to his four children, a fun, loving grandfather to his eleven grandchildren, and a wonderful friend to so many.
Born on September 17, 1941, John Smith was raised in Denver, Colorado by his parents John and Gladys Smith, alongside his two siblings, Jim and Gwendolyn. He attended Denver East High School; following graduation, he attended the University of Colorado, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in History. Spurned by a desire to serve his country, John subsequently entered Officer Candidate school and earned his commission to the United States Airforce. He earned up to the rank of Captain and served for four years as a communications officer. During this time their oldest daughter, Alicia, and son, John Jr., were born. Upon completion of honorable military service, John briefly worked as a history teacher in the location of his last duty station of Racine, Ohio before returning home to Denver with his family. John and Marsha continued to grow their family in Denver, with the birth of two daughters, LiAnne, and Danelle.
John was known by all as the extremely hardworking man, whether in the classroom as a history teacher, managing a business, managing the Kroger deli, or touching lives as a dedicated volunteer. John’s hardworking father had built a successful commercial cleaning business, which he operated with his sons for many years. John continued in this business for many years, working long hours to provide for his family. Upon retiring from that business, John went on to work for many years for the Kroger Company. When his wife received a terminal diagnosis, he worked tirelessly, with help from his children, to care for her. Following her death in 2015, he retired from King Soopers and relocated to be closer to family in Allen, Texas.
Throughout the years of his life, John was known as a Godly man who had served as a minister and volunteered in various capacities as part of his local church community, both in Denver, and in Frisco Texas. He loved ministering to and praying with/for both family and friends. He encouraged all to seek the Lord for all things in their lives, and his life embodied that example.
To his grandchildren, he was Papa. Papa was a safe place as a confidante, and gentle and loving man who loved to eat out a lot, share loud laughter as a jokester, shoot basketball, watch movies, fix aquarium problems, tell old-school stories, play board games, show his dance moves, shout and cheer on his Broncos, and applaud all of their accomplishments. He was their greatest cheerleader and touted all of the ways that he was proud of who they were and all that they had achieved in their lives.
To his daughters and son, he was…always there for them. Always enthusiastic and fun, he loved to horse around and tell silly Dad jokes. He was loyal, dependable, generous, and shared his perspective and how he saw things, for them to consider. He always sought the best for his children: he taught his son to be a strong, Godly, honest, and hardworking family man, and he wanted to ensure that his daughters were well cared for. His strength, resilience, encouragement, and prayers carried them through many challenging times.
To his sister Gwennie, “Johnny was always a wonderful example of who to be in life as a man and as the oldest child”. They shared a loved of sports, and discussion of both history and politics, especially since their parents had been political activists. She appreciated that, no matter how time had passed between their visits, they always picked up where they left off and could just connect instantly as siblings. She loved that his intelligence and introspection allowed them to talk about everything and will forever miss their lifelong connection.
For his brother, there are so many wonderful childhood memories of all the things they did together growing up. He shared the following: “I remember we started out as Cub Scouts and onto the Boy Scouts and finally Explorer Scouts. I remember the good times at camp which we looked forward too each year. One year which stands out in my mind was in 1957 we attended the Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge Pennsylvania. That was a long train ride and a great experience for the both of us. As we grew older, we went our separate ways but we always stayed in touch. With us it wasn’t the amount of time we spent together but the quality of time we had with each other. I will truly miss my Brother… Life is like a Song, I respected the individuality of Johnny. But my life Song would be incomplete without his harmony within and around me!!”
John was a resident of both the Benton Point community and the Larkspur at Twin Creeks retirement community in Allen, where he quickly made many friends and was beloved among community staff members. His wit, humor, bright smile, and belly laughter drew people to him. So many have shared the wonderful impact John had on their lives in the short time that he lived there and how they will miss the joy and light that he brought to their lives. Over the years, friends have known him to be fiercely loyal, giving, caring, and ever authentic in all that he did. Always willing to lend a hand, John was a dependable and selfless friend and neighbor.
Like so many other families around the world, John’s family was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. John unfortunately contracted the virus, and bravely fought for his life, receiving wonderful care during a two-week ICU stay at Medical City of McKinney. Before his passing, he was surrounded by his friends and family, resting peacefully as they held a conference call to share with him all that he had meant to them and the joy he had brought to their lives.
He is survived by his four children – Alicia Gore (spouse Mark Gore) of Allen, Texas; John E. Smith, Jr. (spouse Nicola Smith) of New Haven, CT, nephew, Joseph; LiAnne Brown (spouse Nathan Brown) of Allen, Texas, and Danelle Scott of Tulsa, Oklahoma; eleven grandchildren: Mariah, Marcus, Myles, Albany, Hunter, Steele, Gillian, Chloe, Cassidy, Omar, and Olive; brother Jim Smith of Denver, Colorado and sister Gwendolyn “Gwennie” Smith-Russell Connell of Cheyenne, Wyoming; and nieces and nephews: Jim Smith, Jr., and Raymond Smith of Denver, Colorado, and Quentin Russell and Steven Connell of Cheyenne, Wyoming and three nieces, Allia, Miranda, and Marlee.
He will be dearly missed by his extended family: the Gores, Smiths, Collins, Hogues, and DeaBuenos and Browns, his best friend, John Maglaughlin, and a host of friends at his home church, Gateway Fellowship.
Visitation will be on Saturday, December 4, 2020 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm in the Brooks Family Chapel of the North Dallas Funeral Home, 2710 Valley View Lane, Farmers Branch, Texas 75234. The Celebration of Life service will begin at 3:00 pm.
John will be interred at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver Colorado.
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