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In loving memory of
Russell Smith
  • February 26, 1925
  • -
  • October 04, 2018

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Obituary

Russell “Star” Calvin Smith, 93, joined his Lord and savior on October. 4, 2018, at his home in New Smyrna Beach. A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, October 27, at Coronado Community United Methodist Church, New Smyrna Beach. Guests are asked to wear orange and blue attire. Following the service, family and friends will gather to watch the Florida-Georgia game – an annual tradition for this UF alum.

Our Star was born in Haines City on February 26, 1925, to George Rosse Smith and Grace Irene Kelly. He grew up in New Smyrna Beach – a place he considered “Heaven on Earth.” The single most important thing he wanted people to know was that he “loved his country, loved his family and fought for both. His children want people to know he was the best father anyone could ever have.

Russell graduated from New Smyrna Beach High School in 1942.  In the Army Air Corps during WWII, he trained as a navigator-radar-bombardier in a B-29 aircraft that flew air-sea rescue cover for the Enola Gay when it dropped the world’s first atomic bomb. He was a member of the 504th Bomb Group, 313th Bomb Wing of the 20th Air Force and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross and Army Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. His B-29 was among many that that circled Tokyo Bay while the Japanese surrender was being signed on the deck of the Missouri. Russell also served stateside during the Korean War.

In 1949, our Star married Frances McGehee Smith in New Smyrna Beach. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and later earned the designation as a Professional Engineer. He also earned a masters degree in management from Rollins College. In 1953, Star began a 26-year career with the City of Daytona Beach beginning as an assistant city engineer and working his way to the top post as city manager. He later served as city manager for the City of Holly Hill, as assistant director of ITT’s Palm Coast Utility Corporation and as an engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation as a supervisor for access management for the highway system for Volusia and Flagler counties. He spent his nearly 50-year career in the public sector because he truly wanted to make a difference by serving the public.  His friends and co-workers remember him as a principled man who modeled honesty, fairness and a strong work ethic.  His former employees describe him as a fair, supportive boss and a friend to all at a time when racial discrimination was prominent.

Additional accomplishments include being included on the list of  Who’s Who of High School Seniors in 1942 by ranking in the top percentile on the Florida College Placement Test. In 2013, he was honored by his high school alma mater by being inducted as a (New Smyrna Beach High School) Cuda Achiever.

Russell was an elder at (the former) Highlands Presbyterian Church, Daytona Beach. In recent years, he became a member of Coronado Community United Methodist Church, where he initially was admitted to the church’s Cradle Roll Department as a baby in 1925.

Russell was a member of the Daytona Beach Quarterback Club for nearly 60 years. He also was a founding member of the Florida Public Works Association and served a year as president.

His family, friends and even his casual acquaintances knew our Star was an avid Gator fan. As a member of the University of Florida’s Grand Ole Guard, Star was a Gator Football Booster and season ticket holder since the early 1970s.  Those seated in Section 12 at The Swamp will miss his call to “Get the ball, you Gators!” He may have been the biggest UF fan in the county since he also followed all other male and female Gator sports teams.

Since a child in New Smyrna Beach, Russell took every opportunity to fish the waters of the Indian River. Star was a regular at Wednesday night bingo at the Elk’s Lodge in Port Orange. He also enjoyed spending time with his high school classmates including the NSB  “old timers at Thursday night spaghetti dinners at the American Legion.

Russell set the example for others on how to live a healthy, long, active life. He credited God, Dr. David Williams, the Halifax Health cardiac rehab nurses and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for his ability to live 93 independent years. His good health enabled him to spend the last two decades traveling the world with the Daytona Beach Travel and Ski Club. He thoroughly enjoyed those who doted on him while traveling over the past few years.

Some of Russell’s proudest professional accomplishments include his work as a construction engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation at Grand Coulee Dam, which at the time was the largest single source of electric power on Earth. Due to his efforts as Daytona Beach city manager, his name can be found on many municipal buildings. He also was proud to have balanced the city’s budget and turned engineering in the city around to create a fair process.” He was most proud of securing a park in Holly Hill. As city manager, he worked to keep waterfront land available for public use by preventing private development there. Thanks to our Star, Sunrise Park on Riverside Drive will serve the public today – and forever.

Star’s favorite poem was Wordsworth’s “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” because it expressed exactly what he thought about life. His most frequent instruction to his children was to be patient and loving and kind – three adjectives that epitomized our Star’s consistent nature toward everyone.

Russell was predeceased by his wife of 50 years, Frances McGehee Smith, his baby son, Russell Smith, his beloved companion, Edna Smiley, his parents, and several brothers and sisters including George Smith, Lloyd Smith, Lawrence Smith, Robert Smith, Sarah Mae Smith O’Connell, Ruth Smith Kite, Esther Smith, and Donald Smith. Survivors include his grateful children Steve (Maureen) Smith, Palm Coast, and Dr. Holly Smith, Daytona Beach, granddaughter Tia Smith, Palm Coast, Joy and Adrian Zabala, New Smyrna Beach, and Bruce and Mitchell Smiley, whom he considered family, and his fishing buddy, Juston Hunt.

The family would like to thank the nurses from Kindred Hospice along with Kathy Godden, Susan Strader and Joshua Walter for the loving care they provided our Star in his final days.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Russell’s memory to Cudas Unhooked, P.O. Box 394, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32179.

Life Celebration will be 12:30 PM Saturday, October 27 at Coronado Community United Methodist Church 201 S Peninsula New Smyrna Beach.  A reception will follow. It is requested that appropriate Florida Gators colors be worn.


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  1. 13 Oct 2018
    Kathy grabow says:
    Russell was a very special person to our ski club and travel group we enjoyed seeing the world with him and he always had a smile on his face

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