"Will" Eugene Willis Smith
December 22, 1941 – October 18, 2018
Will was born on December 22, 1941. He was the 7th out of 8 siblings born to Clyde Wesley Smith and Myrtle Lillian Swanson. He was named Willis Eugene Smith by family, but when he joined the Air Force he found out his birth certificate read Eugene Willis. He was lovingly called Willie by his sisters and Dad. His mother always called him Willis.
Raised in Minnesota with harsh winters, he was drawn to this area after being assigned to Adair Air Force Base in Corvallis. He said shoveling rain was easier than snow.
Moving was a way of life for his family so he was not in one place for very long. After his family fractured, he attended grade school in Minnesota and Iowa, high school in Omaha, Nebraska and then on to the University of Minnesota. Always a loyal gopher, he had a hard time switching his loyalties to U of N and then Oregon. He graduated from the University of Nebraska, School of Engineering in February 1965 and received his commission into the Air Force the same day.
He married Darlene Tucker on February 14, 1965 in Kuna, Idaho. After returning to Omaha, he was employed by Nance Engineering until his Air Force assignment landed him in Corvallis. Three years, one son David and lots of challenges, he was sent to Okinawa for a remote tour. Coming back he was able to get a job at Tektronix where he worked for 17 years. Lots of friendships were formed that have lasted a life time. Later he was employed at Z-man Magnetics where he worked for 20 years before his department closed down. It was a special time because he worked with what he liked…electronics.
During those 37 years another son was born, Kurt. With two sons, he tried to keep up with all their activities and finally settle in the Boy Scouts. He was an assistant scout master for 13 years. The highlight of the time in scouts was the winter camp outs where he insisted that the boys learn how to really camp in the snow. They can tell great stories of those times.
Will always had a passion for flying. He got his first radio controlled plan for Father’s Day when he was 50. From then on, that consumed his hobby time. He joined the Barnstormers club and served as secretary for several years. Photography was a lifelong interest. He worked for a professional photographer in high school, was the school photographer, did weddings, graduation photos, and was the main source for teen photos when sponsoring youth.
Will taught Sunday school and served on Deacon and Elder boards most of his life. His belief was that no matter what your gift was, it could be used to help others. The Lord blessed him and he gave to others.
He was a humble man who did not seek status but saw all people as having equal worth. He walked with all with a love and compassion towards all seeing the best and the potential in all.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Myrtle; father, Clyde; sisters, Donna, Delores, Phyllis and Roberta; brothers, Duane and Robert. He is survived by his wife, Darlene; sons, David (Amy) and Kurt (Sarah); and granddaughters, Veronica and Rebecca.
Will's family has chosen for his services to remain private.