Clifford Erwin Smith, age 102, passed away peacefully Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino.

He was born to Chester Arthur and Maude Alma Smith Sept. 20, 1919 in Orofino and considered the Clearwater Valley his home, though he grew up in Missouri.

After his father’s death, when Dad was a baby, his mother took him and his older sister back to her family in Missouri. When his mother remarried, Dad gained three more sisters, and over the years six more girls joined the family. Dad ended up a farm boy in a family with ten girls.

As a young man, Dad returned to the West, where he met and married the love of his life, Margaret, in February of 1941. He worked for the railroad for the next few years and their first two children, Kent and Peggy, joined the family. Dad enlisted in the U.S. Army in World War II, serving in Europe. Soon after his return, the family settled in the small town of Peck. Dad lived there, in the big old house by the town steps, for more than 75 years.

Starting in 1947, Dad’s work life centered around Riverside Lumber Company, where he started as a “pond rat” and eventually became a millwright.

Though he worked hard and often came home exhausted, he enjoyed his work at the mill. He took an active role in the community too, helping to bring TV to our town, working to remodel the library, fighting floods and forest fires, helping to restore the cemetery, dancing at square dances, and having a drink at the Canyon Inn on Saturday nights.

As a family we traveled and saw much of America, enjoyed gatherings with extended family and friends, and loved living in the small town of Peck. Our home was filled with life and laughter, along with its share of loss and tears.

After Dad’s retirement, he and Mom enjoyed RV-ing through the Southwest, especially with Ray and Marie Wargi, and traveling to see family all across America and even took a trip to Japan. When they were at home he loved starting his days with a walk with the family dogs and the guys in the Old Farts’ Club.

Lumbering was in his blood and a favorite activity was taking his chainsaw and the dogs (and sometimes Mom) to the woods to make firewood. He would haul it home in his little red pickup, chop it into stove-size chunks and stack it in neat rows, ready to keep the house warm in cold weather.

He cared for Mom at home through her long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, losing her in 2011. He remained there in the family home until health issues took him to Brookside Landing in 2018 and there, he found a new home. He loved teasing and joking with the staff there in his new community and soon settled in comfortably.

Dad loved Idaho, Mom and his family, his work, his friends, and pinochle. In his later years after losing Mom, he came to rely on the Orofino Senior Center for companionship, and loved Wanda’s great meals. He enjoyed the weekly pinochle games thoroughly; it was the highlight of his week if he had high score. One of the things he enjoyed most over the last few years were his birthday celebrations, when he was surrounded by family and friends.

Fiercely independent right to the end, strong-willed and a hard worker, he always tried to accomplish something worthwhile each day to “pay his rent on Planet Earth,” as he put it. Then at the end of the day, he celebrated the day, sitting in the backyard swing with a drink in his hand as evening fell, with whoever was there. Those were some of the best times.

Dad was preceded in death by his wife Margaret, his parents, all ten of his sisters, and one baby great-grandson.

He is survived by his six children: Kent (Donna) Smith of Loveland, Co; Peggy Keough of Spokane, WA; Craig (Jill) Smith of Clarkston; Mary Pat (William) Slinkard of Palouse; Mike (Judy) Smith of Santee, CA; and Robin Christensen of Fruitland, ID.

He was much loved by his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren and also enjoyed a loving circle of nieces and nephews.

Shortly before he moved from the family home in Peck, he lost Buster and Barkley, his two canine buddies who kept him company after Mom was gone. We’re hoping they are in the loving crowd waiting for him, ready for one more Peck walk.

The family wishes to thank Dad’s friends at Brookside, who made him feel at home there, and also the wonderful team of medical professionals at Clearwater Valley Hospital, who helped Dad and his family so much during his last days. Dr. Phillip Peterson was Dad’s doctor and friend for more than 30 years.

A small graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 10, at the Vineland Cemetery in Clarkston. The full celebration of Dad’s life will take place at a family reunion next summer at Three Meadows when all of us can be there. More information on that later in case friends want to join us.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Orofino Senior Center, Box 1175, Orofino, ID 83544.

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