Ronald M Smith
September 29, 1934 – November 2, 2018
Ronald Maris Smith died on November 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. He was born in Wichita, KS to Clarance and Glenna (Clifford) Smith, but the family got to Texas as quickly as they could. He attended 4th grade in Brownsville, Texas before the family moved to Houston during the WWII years. Ron finished grade school in Houston, and then attended both Johnston Junior High and San Jacinto High School.
In 1950, Dad dropped out of high school and joined the Marine Corps. Both of his older brothers had served in WWII (one in the Army and the other in the Army Air Corps), and despite his parents’ objections, Ron lied about his age and joined up. Dad went through boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego, with his platoon graduating 9/15/1950.
After a few months of training at Camp Pendleton, Dad’s outfit shipped to Korea in 1951. He served in the First Marine Division in Korea in 1951 and 1952, and then served in the Third Marine Division in Nara, Japan in 1953 and 1954. The most significant aspect of his service was his lifelong affection for Korean food and culture, and the meeting and marrying his first wife, Pang Ja Jung, who predeceased him in 1989.
Despite not finishing high school, Ron went on to complete a bachelor’s degree from University of Houston and an MBA in International Business from Laredo State University (now Texas A&M – Laredo).
His career was in quality control engineering of oil field tooling, working with several Houston companies including McEvoy, Baker-Hughes Oil Tools, Fluor and Hydril.
For more than 25 years, Ron’s home was a gathering spot for the Korean-American community in Houston and a landing place for recent Korean emigrants. After his first wife’s death, Ron traveled to many places. He had been the primary caregiver for Pang Ja during her ALS confinement, and so he was unable to travel in those years. So that first trip was to reminisce with old family and friends in Korea. After years in Houston and Austin, he then went on to live in both Laredo and Harlingen, and he traveled a good deal throughout Mexico and Central America. Ron especially loved living in Antigua, Guatemala for 6 months, but he also enjoyed Oaxaca, Cuernavaca, San Miguel Allende, and a solo rail trip to Mexico’s Copper Canyon (Canon del Cobre). It’s very much true that Ron was never happier than when he was in a sweltering climate surrounded by people who were speaking Spanish.
In the late ‘90s, Ron returned to Houston, done with oil tool industry, and contemplating retirement. He took a job as supervisor of security at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts where he met his wife, Emily Mack. Marine Corps reunions and more travel became increasingly important in recent years, and he delighted in long-distance phone conversations with long-lost Marine buddies. Ron and Emily took numerous trips together throughout the US but also in Central America. They enjoyed reunions of Marine Corps divisions and VUMS (Veterans of Underage Military Service), an organization for which he expressed inordinate pride, and they were proud participants of neighborhood gardening events in the Westbury neighborhood where he resided for nearly 50 years.
Ron’s interests included handball, tennis, weightlifting (he liked to bench-press his own weight each year on his birthday), and running (including 5Ks, 10Ks, and marathons). He especially enjoyed the NYC marathon, the Honolulu marathon, and (of course!) the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. He loved “the great outdoors” and he reveled in doing his own yardwork. In his opinion, the hotter the outdoors, the better. He detesting most air conditioning and he was especially annoyed when people used the word “humidity”.
Ron is survived by his wife Emily; his two children, Sonia Smith (Richard Hooker) and Clarance Smith (Denise Kettelberger); and three grandchildren, Jamie Sava (Kris Sava), Elizabeth Smith (Leah Muhm) and David Smith; two great-grandchildren; and a host of other family and friend.
There will be a visitation on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 from 6-8 pm with a Rosary at 7 pm at Earthman’s Funeral Home at 12555 S. Kirkwood, Stafford TX.
Graveside services and burial will be held on Friday, November 23, 2018 at 11:15 am at the Houston National Cemetery 10410 Veterans Memorial Dr., Houston, Texas 77038.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Family Catholic Church building fund. Holy Family Catholic Church, 1510 5th Street, Missouri City, Texas 77489.
- Visitation Tuesday, November 20, 2018
- Graveside Service Friday, November 23, 2018