John Wayne Smith was born August 27, 1938 in Worland Wyoming, the 2nd of 5 children born to John James Smith and Amy Evelyn Goehring Smith. He passed away peacefully in his Star Valley Home on August 9, 2021 with his loving family by his side.
John’s dad was working in a sawmill in the Big Horn Mountains and they were living in a work camp near Meadowlark Lake. It was quite a journey down the mountain to Worland so John could be born in a hospital.
John’s dad worked construction. He and Amy and their family traveled to wherever the jobs were living in many places in Wyoming. In 1951, they moved to Irwin Idaho where John’s dad worked on the Palisades Dam. John attended 7th and 8th grades in Irwin. He rode the bus to Idaho Falls and later to Ririe during his 9th and 10th years of schooling.
John’s older sister Joan was born in Basin Wyoming. His younger brothers and a sister, Bill, Patsy & Craig were born in Rock Springs, Thermopolis and Afton respectively. In 1955 the family moved to Jackson and soon after John started working for Lower Valley Power & Light Company. In 1957 he graduated from Jackson Wilson High School.
John met Carole Benson when he was a senior in high school and she was a freshman. They dated for about 3 years before getting married in 1960. To this marriage were born 4 children – Connie in 1962, Kathy in 1965, Doug in 1966 and Janice in 1968.
This family has lived an adventurous life. While John was working, the family would go “play.” – hiking trips to Hidden Falls; swimming in String Lake, going to Astoria Hot Springs to swim; picnics to many of the special places around Jackson Hole. On weekends, when John was available, they went fishing, boating on Jackson Lake, snowmobiling, and weekend trips to visit historical sites or family and friends living in other places. They nearly always took a trip during the school “spring break” – Disneyland, crabbing on coast of Washington, Lake Powell, and Death Valley California plus many other places.
John worked for Lower Valley P & L for over 35 years. His work with LVP&L involved countless hours of power line patrol – sometimes on snowshoes along the Flagg Ranch line. He also worked through the really bad winter freeze of 1978 when the temperature got down to minus 63 degrees. The power company crews worked in this extreme cold for 32 hours straight, having to take 15 minutes shifts taking turns warming up.
Over the years, John took sub-contract jobs with Teton National Park, including retiring the overhead telephone lines, cleaning up the destroyed overhead power lines following the Flagg Ranch fire, testing transformers for PCBs and trimming trees in the Grovont campground.
Around 1989 John retired from LVP&L and worked 2 years at other jobs; drove a tour bus for Powder River Bus Tours, groomed snowmobile trails for Togwotee Mountain Lodge, and did landscape restoration for some Lower Valley sites. He was offered a job in Powell Wyoming in 1991 and worked there for 4 years 1st as a Line Superintendent and then as Manager.
John and Carole returned to Jackson in 1995 and John went back to work part-time for LVP&L. He retired again in 2000 and he and Carole started going to Arizona for parts of the winters. For the next few years, they worked for a few months each winter as volunteer campground hosts for Arizona State Parks.
John and Carole served a 6 month mission to the Martin’s Cove Mormon Handcart Center near Alcova Wyoming in 2000. They returned home to Jackson and sold their home and built a new one at Star Valley Ranch.
In 2008 John and Carole went to South Africa with Rick and Linda Taylor with a group of quilters to help Zulus with their quilting business. They continued to go south for several winters, but stopped doing that in about 2017.
John was always happy to serve others, even helping several different families move to Utah or Missouri or just across town. If you needed a helping hand, he would do what he could to help. John was loving, generous and selfless. He was also quite a prankster with an amazing sense of humor.
John saw a really nice horse collar mirror that his uncle had made and decided to try it himself. He ended up making many of these for family and friends. He learned to flint knap and made some beautiful arrowheads. He got a lathe and started wood turning; making bowls, lamps, candlesticks and much more. He also started making some very nice barnwood picture frames.
The end of 2020 was the beginning of a decline in John’s health. He underwent double bypass heart surgery in January of 2021. He had to slow down a lot as he didn’t have the energy to do all of the FUN things he used to do – hiking, fishing, etc.
John is deeply loved and will be greatly missed by many. He leaves his wife of 61 years, Carole, 4 children and their spouses, 13 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.
Funeral Services will be Monday, August 16th 2021 at the Cedar Creek Ward Freedom Chapel at 11:00 am with viewing from 9:30 – 10:45. Burial will be at 4:00 pm in Jackson at Aspen Hill Cemetery.
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