Larry D. Smith, 84, Columbia Falls, passed away Feb. 4, 2019, at the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and lung cancer.
Larry was born Oct. 3, 1934, in Sidney, Montana, to Roscoe and Marjorie (Huber) Smith. At the age of 13 he moved with his parents and four siblings to the Flathead Valley. The family lived first in Whitefish, then Columbia Falls, then in Whitefish again where Larry graduated from high school in 1952.
Larry joined the United States Navy in 1956. He was an aviation electronic technician aircrew member operating all in-flight electronic equipment. He flew aboard the Constellation Airborne Early Warning aircraft and also the P5M Seaplanes. He was honorably discharged in December 1960. For a short period, Larry and his three younger brothers, Dick, Tom and Ed, were all in the Navy at the same time. Larry married Kathleen Hanses in November 1961. They had three children, Kenneth, Shawn and Timothy; they divorced in 1968.
Larry married Lois (Adrian) Hanson, in March 1970. He welcomed and cared for Lois’ two children, Dawn and Marty. They later welcomed two more children to their marriage, Elaine and Lara.
After graduating high school, Larry worked for the Great Northern Railroad in Whitefish as a diesel electrician. He took a leave of absence to serve in the military, then returned to the railroad and was transferred to St. Paul, Minnesota, and then to Havre. Later, he was offered, and accepted a position as a civilian radar/electronics technician at the Air Force Radar Base/Air Defense Command at Del Bonita, Montana. He continued there until 1962 when he went to work for Anaconda Aluminum Company, which later became Columbia Falls Aluminum Company. After a career of 38 years, Larry retired as chief electrical power station operator for the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company in January 2000.
Larry loved family gatherings with his children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, adopted children and adults, (provided you could pass the family entrance test), in-laws, out-laws, ex in-laws and ex out-laws, friends and sometimes a stray cat or two would attend. Usually, this involved a few guitars, various kids’ musical instruments, a keyboard/piano, the family singing and a cold beer (or two) and lots and lots of food. Larry also had a love for airplanes, flying, and motorcycles. His first airplane ride was in a small two-seat airplane in Sidney. His love for flying continued throughout his lifetime. In the 1970s he attended Flight School and earned his Private, Commercial, Instrument, Multi-Engine and Seaplane pilot ratings. He never turned down a reason to fly, often flying friends on various missions from locating lost horses in the mountains to attending air shows in Seattle. Also, several family trips were taken in the “Mighty Birds.”
Larry owned several motorcycles over the years from Harleys to Hondas and he loved to ride them. He passed along this love by teaching his children to ride as well, some of them at the young age of 5 years old on a Honda 50 mini-bike. His last motorcycle was a 1968 Honda 305 Superhawk. Both of these are still in the family with the Superhawk restored to its original condition and owned by Marty. Larry was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Richard (Lavena) and Thomas, his first wife Kathleen, son Kenneth, and granddaughter Melissa Smith-Choate. Also, preceding him in death was his best friend and cousin Kelly Sanders. “I’m Their Leader, Which Way Did They Go?”
Larry is survived by Lois, his wife of 48 years; his children, Dawn Linquist of Havre; Marty (Joanne) Hanson of Richmond, Virginia; Elaine (Erik) Weaver of Spanaway, Washington; Lara Eklund (Rich Claar) of New Braunfels, Texas; Shawn Osler (Amy) of Fircrest, Washington; and Timothy Osler, Bozeman.
Larry is survived by 11 grandchildren who were his pride and joy, Drew (Deanna) Linquist, Dane Linquist, Lari Dee Linquist, Alexandra Clary, Emma Clary, Christine Choate, Steven Choate, David Claar, Cali May Claar, Skylar Osler and Haleigh Osler, and one great-granddaughter, Isla Linquist. He is also survived by his sister, Joan (Lee) Smith of Columbia Falls, and his brother, Ed (Marjorie) Smith of Bakersfield, California, along with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
A rosary for Larry will be said at 7 p.m. Sunday evening, June 16, at St. Richard’s Catholic Church in Columbia Falls. A celebration of life service will be held at St. Richard’s Catholic Church at 11 a.m. June 17, with a luncheon to follow. Interment with military rites will be at Fairview Cemetery at 2:30 p.m. after the luncheon.
The family has requested that in lieu of gifts, donations can be made to the Montana Veterans Home, Activities Department in Larry’s name, or to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (https://alzfdn.org).
Darlington Funeral Home, Kalispell, is caring for the family; firstname.lastname@example.org