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August 25, 1931 – March 19, 2022

Don Smith, (present)

Don, age 90, of Waverly, died March 19, 2022, at Ridgeview Hospital in Waconia, after falling in his home March 16. Don lived almost all of his life in Waverly because he never found a spot he liked better.

Donald Joseph Smith was born at the Eitel Hospital in Minneapolis, Aug. 25, 1931, to Conrad and Minnie Smith. He graduated from St Mary’s High School in 1949 and leaves behind his German school book with the inscription, “In case of fire, $2 will be given to the person who throws this in.”

He worked on the railroad, played town ball, and served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953 training marksmen at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, HI. Sargent Smith returned home and attended business school in St. Cloud and at Brown Institute in Minneapolis becoming a skilled electronic technician. Don could fix everything except a broken balloon.

On June 20, 1959, he married Geraldine Meehan at St. Mary’s and would often quote one of his favorite gifts, a t-shirt that reads, “Please Pray For Me My Wife is Irish.” In 1968 Don & Gerry built their house on Waverly Lake and Don commuted to the Roseville, St. Paul or Eagan for more than 33 years so he could raise his family on the lake. He worked through the various mergers of the Sperry Rand corporation eventually retiring in 1991 from Unisys.

Don kept a perfect yard, garden and lakeshore. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and just sitting on the end of the dock.

He was a member of American Legion Post 305 for 68 years. For decades Don had the honor every Memorial Day of responding “present” after Dan Graham recited the Roll Call of deceased veterans. It’s a ritual that started in Waverly after WWI and continues today.

Don also volunteered with the old Waverly Sportsman’s Club where he made sure local kids knew how to responsibly handle a firearms. He worked many Waverly Booster’s activities, and Don & Gerry received the 2017 Aquatennial Honorary Commodore Award in recognition of their decades of community leadership and service.

Along with Gerry, Don is survived by son, Brad and his wife Pam, granddaughter Anna Smith of Howard Lake, and grandson Nick (Sarena) Sopkowiak of Burnsville; daughters Eileen of Minneapolis and Laurie of Crystal; sister Barbara Kaczmarek of Cokato; and nieces and nephews and their families.

In addition to his parents, two infant siblings preceded Don in death, along with brother-in-law Ray Kaczmarek; sisters-in-law Lois Warzeha and husband Marvin, and Jean Bengtson and husband Carl; and two nieces.

He taught his kids the important things in life: how to ice skate, snowmobile, swim, boat, canoe, hunt, waterski, care for the lake; and make sauerkraut, pork sausage and strawberry malts.

Don finally gets his wish to move across the lake and up on the hill to St Mary’s cemetery. Mass of Christian Burial will be 11 a.m., March 26, 2022, at St Mary’s in Waverly, with visitation at 9 to 10:45 a.m. at the church.

Every time Eileen or Laurie left the house to drive back to their homes, Don instructed them to “Watch out for the idiots” on the road. Sadly, Don didn’t remember or was too stubborn to follow his family’s instructions to use the damn cane! He fell in the living room and broke his hip while eating a Kit-Kat the evening of March 16. The family found his cane in the back room by the candy bowl.



3 Guestbook Entries

  1. Gary Young

    My heartfelt condolences to Don’s family and friends. I didn’t know him, but after reading this beautiful tribute, I feel I do now. I think I really missed something not getting to know this great guy.

  2. Angeline Carlson

    You are all in my thoughts. Your dad was a special person and your tribute is filled with beautiful memories.

  3. Kari Peterson

    Eileen, Laurie and your entire family. This is such an amazing tribute! What a lovely man your dad was. And obviously a life well lived. Sending you thoughts for peace during this time and know you will enjoy remembering him while you celebrate his life!


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