Ike Smith, 97, a resident of Walla Walla since 1956, died peacefully on March 27, 2013, at Regency at The Park in College Place after living there since June 2012. He previously lived at Wheatland Village for seven years and on Portland Avenue, prior to 2005.
On Oct. 16, 1915, Ike was born on Lopez Island, Wash., the second of seven boys. When he was 4, his family, which consisted of his parents and four boys at that point, moved to Whidbey Island, but soon went to the nearby town of Dewey for the boys to go to school. Occasionally, he and his brother Steve would row their boat across Deception Pass from Dewey to where their father worked in a logging camp on Whidbey Island to take him lunch.
When Ike was in seventh grade, his family moved to a farm in the Sultan/Startup area. When they had opportunity, he and his brothers went backpacking in the Snohomish watershed area, building their own packs out of oak and ropes. For food, they carried raw eggs in a jar and home-canned meatballs.
He graduated salutatorian of his high school in 1933 and moved to Seattle, where he began work at Continental Can Company as an office boy. In the evenings, he went to Washington Business College. When he moved to Seattle, he got involved in a Pentecostal Church movement, where he said the Holy Spirit quenched a spiritual thirst. He met Helen B. Larsen at a Hollywood Temple (which became Calvary Temple) youth party in Seattle. They were married on May 16, 1941.
Ike enlisted in the U.S. Navy immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was stationed in Seattle, Bremerton and San Diego. At the time of his discharge, he had attained the rank of chief warrant officer, and was a “plank-holder,” a member of the original launching crew of the aircraft carrier USS Commencement Bay. When he finished serving with the Navy, he went back to Continental Can Company in Seattle, and in 1948 was transferred to San Jose, Calif. By 1954, he and Helen had four boys: Norm, David, Allen and Greg. In 1955, the family moved to Walla Walla. Ike lived in their house on Portland Avenue for the next 49 years.
Ike and Helen were highly involved in the First Assembly of God Church in Walla Walla. He was a deacon, superintendent of Sunday school, and helped wherever there was a need. During the Christmas season, Ike and friends would work the Royal Rangers booth at the mall selling Christmas wreaths they had made, raising funds to send kids to summer camp.
He was on the founding board of Walla Walla Community College (appointed by then-Gov. Dan Evans), managed several Continental Can Company plants, and was active in the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Young Life Club board, where he served as treasurer. Beginning in the early ‘70s, Ike and Helen started traveling. They went to Hawaii to do construction at the YWAM conference center every January and to the Young Life Malibu Club in British Columbia to spend a week each spring working on repairs.
Ike enjoyed woodworking and outdoor activities such as fly-fishing on the Tucannon River, skiing, backpacking, and family vacations to national parks and Priest Lake, Idaho. In 1971, Ike and Helen bought a cabin at Priest Lake, which they enjoyed for the next 29 years. After Ike retired, he became a serious huckleberry picker and would pick 2-3 gallons a week. His favorite thing every evening was to go out on the dock and watch the sunset. He was always awed by the beauty of God’s world.
Never too old to make a major change, in 1996 Ike and Helen began attending College Place Presbyterian Church. The Sunday service was often the highlight of Ike’s week, all the way to the very end of his life. Another change came a few years later, after Helen passed on, when Ike moved in June of 2005 to Wheatland Village, where he loved living and made many dear friendships while maintaining his former relationships. Following a stroke in June 2012, he moved to Regency at The Park, where they took such wonderful care of him.
Ike had a relationship with the Lord that grew stronger as he grew older. He made sure his family members, as well as many others, were well-cared for, prayed for, encouraged and content. He was gracious and kind, especially to his many caregivers. He had the gift of giving and he gave sacrificially and gladly of himself, his skills and his finances. He often engraved sayings or verses into pieces of furniture he made. Perhaps he should have had 2 Cor. 9:7 on his bed: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
He was preceded in death by his parents, Sims and Anna Rahe Smith; by four of his brothers, Stephen, Ernest, Benjamin and Elmer; by his wife, Helen Smith; and by one of his sons, Allen Smith. He is survived by two brothers, Martin of Edmonds, Wash., and Donald (Jan) of Wenatchee; three sons; five grandchildren; and four great-granddaughters, Norman (Ann) of Bellevue, Wash., and his son, Tristan (Julia) of Port Angeles, Wash.; David of Cathedral City, Calif., and his son, Aaron (Jennifer) of Robbinsdale, Minn.; Gregory (Madelaine) of Olympia; and their daughters, Hilary (KC) of Seattle, and their daughter Olive; Alyssa (Kabyn Vikesland) of St. Louis, and their daughters, Alaythia Esther and Cosette; Michelle (Andrew Sandeen) of Musoma, Tanzania, and their daughter Zarya.
Friends are invited to join his family in a celebration of his life at College Place Presbyterian Church on Saturday, April 6, 2013, at 11 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the CPPC College Scholarship Fund in honor of Ike through the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder, Walla Walla, WA 99362. There will be an internment service at 9:45 a.m., April 6, 2013, in the Memory Garden area of Mountain View Cemetery. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at www.herringgroseclose.com.