Henry W. Smith was born March 5, 1959 in Conrad, MT (which he was reluctant to admit to people and for which he never forgave his parents). He was the son of Henry W. and Geraldine Smith. His entire life was spent trying to make them proud. He suffered from multiple personality disorder early in life. His name changed from Billly (not a misprint; his own spelling) to Bill, William, Smitty, Bobcat Billy and Wild Bill.
He participated in Choteau High School football, track, and basketball. With single minded determination, he dreamed of becoming MSU’s next Jan Stenerud. His dad erected a goal post in the farmyard to encourage and direct his energy. After graduating from Choteau High School in 1977, he moved on to his dream world at Montana State University where the blood that coursed through his veins began to run Blue and Gold. The family is a bit concerned Bobcat Stadium won’t be completed without him. If you are so inclined to help him rest in peace, a memorial can be sent to MSU Bobcat football stadium. It would ease our minds.
His devotion and love for his Grandpa Alex Zier led him into his life’s occupation of farming and ranching. It was a part time venture while he finished his finance degree at MSU. Our paths crossed the summer of 1980 and our world turned upside down; we embarked on a roller coaster ride that rivaled Walt Disney’s Space Mountain. He proposed to me, Mary Manion Smith, while under the influence of anesthesia during his first surgical encounter of the major kind. We were united in holy matrimony three months later on December 28. Most of you here today were there then. I hope you put your money on crazy, stupid love. Any of you who bet against us, please pay up by purchasing a few doughnuts at Byler’s Bakery. I, myself, will take the odds in Jameson. How do you think I survived him?
The best of himself he reproduced in his children. He never wanted to appear boastful, but he was so very proud to be dad to sons: Dr. Brendon Smith (Kalispell) and Brady Smith (Great Falls) and his princess Marci Erbele (Jacob, Fargo, ND). Marci had him wrapped around her little finger and cinched him up tight when her boys, Holden and Nolan, contributed to his multiple personality disorder and he became, “Grandpa”.
Bill loved his dogs, Howard’s Pizza, McDonald’s, high school annuals – anybody’s high school annual, and college football magazines. Extracurricular activity revolved around food. He was the master of ceremonies around any table blessed to have him. He may be a closet relative of Johnny Carson. His encyclopedic memory of trivial dates, numbers and statistics was phenomenal. He is who Google googled when answering your questions.
I don’t walk on water, but he thought I did. To those of you he convinced I could, I apologize. He loved me and told me so every day. Depending on the day and the severity of his transgressions sometimes more than once a day. I was blessed to be part of his life, and he saved mine.
Hardworking, hard of hearing, and soft hearted, Bill was generous to a fault. If you took advantage of this, again, please pay up at Byler’s Bakery. He might forgive you. He was a medical marvel. He defied all odds of medical science and used up more than a cat’s allotted nine lives. There was nothing natural about his death. He had frequent flyer miles to the ER. All his favorite nurses were working, and we are so grateful for all the special moments of our lives they made so much easier. The only difference in this trip is when he left the building, he was in no more pain and there was no suffering. We get to do that for him. He had recently achieved his YouTube pilot’s license. I hope his first flight was successful.
“He requested his remains be buried under the tree in the yard next to the dog I wouldn’t let him have.” (These perfect words are not my own. I can’t take credit for them, but I will borrow them. I am grieving, I’m sure the author can appreciate my fragile state. I will credit them a doughnut from Byler’s Bakery.)
Those unfortunate to survive without him, include the afore mentioned family he created, his mother, his sister Linda Erickson (Dick, Eugene, OR) and nephews Matt, Greg and Ross Erickson his aunt Helen McIntyre, and his uncle Dick Zier. Those lucky enough to escape trying to live without Bill were his father, Henry W. Smith and both paternal and maternal grandparents, his Aunt Shirley Johnson and his Aunt Bernice Wilt.
The Bobcats and I now have something in common. We both lost our biggest fan. I hope that doesn’t give the Griz an advantage. It’d kill him.
In lieu of flowers for Bill: Frequent our local businesses. They may struggle without him. Go to Curly Willow and buy your spouse some flowers. Byler’s Bakery has the best doughnuts. Trust him, he is a connoisseur with 61 years of experience. Go out to lunch at the Outpost Deli, John Henry’s and the Log Cabin.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Henry "Bill" W. Smith, please visit our floral store.