Rev. Richard K. (Dick) Smith


Rev. Richard K. (Dick) Smith passed away on December 9, 2021

SMITH—The Rev. Richard K. (Dick) Smith passed away on December 9, 2021. He was 98 years old.

Dick was a fifth-generation Oregonian and the son of Joe T. and Mabel Smith of Cottage Grove, Ore. He was born on August 7, 1923, and graduated from Cottage Grove High School and Oregon State University. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University.

His college studies were interrupted by World War II. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps, was awarded his wings as an aerial navigator, and flew 25 combat missions in a B-17 over Europe, for which he received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

Ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1950, he served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Ephrata, Wash., and later as a member of the administrative staff for the denomination in Washington State, New York City and Arizona between 1950 and his retirement in 1985. For the last 22 years of his ministry, he was the Synod Executive for Arizona and New Mexico.

The recognitions he received include: An honorary doctorate from Whitworth College, Florence First Citizen of 1992, and a listing in Who’s Who in Religion. When the Executive Secretary of the denomination died suddenly, he was tapped by the church to head its Mission program until new, permanent leadership could be selected.

Dick authored three commercially published books along with a number of magazine articles in such publications as Arizona Highways and Oregon Coast Magazine. He co-authored “Crossings: McCulloch’s Coastal Bridges” and “49 and Holding.” He also wrote nine self-published books on family and community, including a history of the first 40 years of the Florence Rotary Club.

He served as president of the Florence Rotary Club in 1991-92. At age 82, he volunteered for a Rotary Work Project in Guatemala.

After retirement, the Smiths moved to Florence, Ore., to help in the newly organized Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw for two years. Dick was named Pastor Emeritus of that church.

Much of his energy in retirement went into community service. He organized or chaired some aspect of fundraising for his church, Peace Harbor Hospital, Siuslaw Public Library, Florence Food Share and Western Lane Community Foundation. In round figures, he was directly involved in raising over $3,000,000 for agencies and organizations in Florence.

He went to aerobics three days a week until he was 96. He whittled figures and caricatures for fun. A dozen presidents of the Florence Rotary Club received one of his carved likenesses when they completed their terms.

He married Harriet Van Riper, of Carlisle, Pa., also a student at Yale. They were married 72 years. He was preceded in death by his wife.

The Smiths have two sons and spouses who survive him: Bishop Kirk and Laura Smith of Sedona, Ariz., and the Rev. Paul and Laura Smith of Milton, Pa. There are three grandchildren: Sean Smith of Santa Clara, Calif., Jordan Smith of New York City, and Nathaniel Smith of Salzburg, Austria. There are four great-grandchildren: Lars, Tess, Ian and Joshua.

A memorial service will be held on August 6, 2022, at the Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw or to the Western Lane Community Foundation.

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