William Thomas Smales

William Thomas Smales passed away in 2023.

William Thomas Smales Sept. 26, 1930 - 2023

SMALES—William Thomas Smales was born at home in Soledad, Calif. on Sept. 26, 1930. His father operated farm machinery on local ranches. Eight years later his parents surprised him with a baby sister, Carol. Bill and Carol bonded for life. In the late thirties, the family moved to San Francisco.

Bill's first job was selling magazines door to door and selling newspapers outside the local post office. He was just finishing his second year of college when the Korean War began. Bill enlisted in the Navy and opted for sea duty. He was assigned to the “USS The Sullivans, DD 537,” named after the five Sullivan brothers that were killed in the Pacific in World War II. The ship was preparing for a six month tour of duty in korea. The Sullivans steamed 34,000 miles around the world in 217 days, transiting both the Panama and Suez canals with Bill in the engine room surrounded by a maze of pipes filled with high pressure steam spinning turbines. What an adventure for a 20 year old sailor. In 1954, while The Sullivans was undergoing maintenance in Philadelphia, Bill met his future wife, and love of his life, Dolores Kaslavage. After his discharge in 1955, the couple moved to San Francisco. Bill went back to college for 2 years, and got a job working afternoons and weekends in the mailroom of a San Francisco stock brokerage firm named Dean witter and Co. When he graduated from college, he pursued a position in the sales training program. This was no easy task, as he had come from a less affluent family. Bill did not give up. He secured a place in the training program, and became a stockbroker for Dean Witter. 31 years later, in 1988, he retired as a senior vice president, member of the board of directors, the executive committee, and national director of marketing. He eventually had an office in San Francisco and New York City, becoming an early frequent flier. He also served as an arbitrator for the New York Stock Exchange and the Pacific Coast Exchange. Bill's work ethic gained him the admiration of his colleagues on both coasts. In his retirement letter to the firm, he wrote “I've had a grand time. Laughed a lot and cried a little”

After retirement, Bill and Dolores traveled the world together. When Dolores passed away in 1997, Bill explored solo, and in his words, " bummed around" the South Pacific and Caribbean as a passenger on container and cargo ships.

Bill loved steam locomotives and would travel long distances to get to them. He was part of a small group of steam buffs who chartered a rail trip across Russia. Beginning in Berlin they crossed Siberia to Vladivostok using 66 different steam locomotives covering 7700 miles. He liked to ride up in the cab with the engineers inhaling steam, smoke, cinders and beer. He crossed South America by steam – twice.

His hero’s were his mother and father, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, General George Patton, Ronald Reagan, Dean Witter, and Warren Buffet.

There is a plaque in his office that reads “it was a long way from Dean Witters mail room to #1 Wildwinds in Florence, but it was a great trip.”

As for life itself, he liked to say, with great enthusiasm, “isn’t this just terrific!”

Bill asserted that he was "the luckiest guy i know". His positive attitude, engaging personality, and wealth of knowledge gained him countless friends during his life. Bill will be missed by so many, his dear family will forever hold him in their hearts. We love you, dad.. Burns’s Riverside Chapel in Florence will handle arrangements.