- About Us
Edgar Eugene "Gene" SmithApril 26, 1925 ~ September 11, 2017 (age 92)
Edgar Eugene “Gene” Smith
April 26, 1925 to September 11, 2017
Edgar Eugene “Gene” Smith was born on April 26, 1925 in Brawley, California, as his family was transitioning to Orange, California. He was the 5th of 7 children of John Wiley Smith and
Mary Jewell Brown Smith. He is predeceased by his parents, his siblings Selma, Elmer, Harry, William, Wayne; his wife Joan Marie Hoefs Smith (2010), his sons Timothy (2013)
and Matthew (2017). He will be greatly missed by his children: Teresa (Tita), Fr. Christopher, Thaddeus, Maria, Monica, his sister Minnie Lee Campbell and his large extended family of nieces, nephews, in-laws & Godchildren. He is affectionately referred to as “Gramps” by 19 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, 3 great-great grandsons. Gene was well known in Orange, the town he loved and where he lived, worked, played, prayed and volunteered nearly all of his 92 years. He attended Center Street, Maple Street, Killefer, and Intermediate Schools. At Orange Union High School, he excelled at sports, was Yearbook and Reflector Editor, Student Body President 1942-43. In 1943, OUHS senior boys were graduated early in order to serve in WWII. Dad proudly enlisted in the US Navy serving as Signalman Second Class ( “skivvy waver” as he called it) on the USS Albert Hill. In 1945 after the war, at his home in Orange, he was introduced one day to his sister Minnie’s OUHS friend, Joanie who was visiting. Life changed forever that day for the young sailor, as a few weeks later, the couple eloped and were married. They raised 7 children in the home they purchased in 1949, expanding it 5 times, and were married for a blessed 65 years. Together they volunteered in the local 20-30 Club which raised funds to fight polio, help families, and helped organize the annual Orange May Festival and Parade. They shared their faith in God, starting out at small mission style Holy Family Church at Chapman and Shaffer and then working to establish Holy Family Cathedral and School. They chaired the Holy Family Fiesta for over 20 years. Dad loved baseball, from playing on the original sand lot diamonds of Orange, to adult league games at his favorite “Diamond One” at Hart Park. In 1958, Dad and a group of friends founded West Orange Little League, the first Little League in Orange that still exists today. In 1978, Dad and friends took the plunge and bought season tickets at Angel Stadium, which are still in the family. He and Mom proudly celebrated the Angels 2002 World Series Championship from those seats!
In Orange, Gene was probably best recognized as the proud purveyor of fresh produce, nuts and tasty candies! Growing up in Orange, he picked oranges and worked in the packing houses with his young friends. He was the “produce boy” at Daniels Market at 122 N. Glassell (now Citrus City Grille) and the downtown Plaza Alpha Beta. When he married Joanie, his father-in-law Herb Hoefs, took him as a partner in his open air fruit stand, “The Grove” (1945-1958) on Highway 101, near Chapman Ave. He successfully ran that business until the Santa Ana 5 Freeway was built and took the land. With a growing family and the need for health insurance, Dad worked for Langendorf Bakeries (1958-1965) in sales of cookies. But as a successful entrepreneur, he was able to once again open his own business on Lincoln in Orange; Smith’s Farm Fresh Market (1965-1986) where everyone in the family, and many of their friends worked. At the same time, he sent the Smith kids who were old enough, to locations all over Orange County where they sold fresh oranges, strawberries, avocados from pick-up trucks on the weekends! They were happy, busy days, with everyone learning the family business from “The Chief”. Dad says he opened Smith’s Nuthouse (1987-2009) when he “got tired of spraying the lettuce”. Customers still remark about how they miss their favorite nuts and candies, and especially, visiting with Gene and Joanie. Dad modeled the value of hard and honest work to all of us. And at the same time, he provided 12 years of Catholic education to 7 children; supporting Holy Family School, Mater Dei, our sports teams, 4-H, fund raisers, music lessons and more. He saw to it that we enjoyed an annual summer vacation together at Newport Beach, where he taught us to body surf, fish, clean fish, relax and play. In the early days, he and his buddies from Orange would dive for abalone at Dana Point, which our Moms would then cook for a huge meal the same night. On other nights, those same friends and Dad and Mom would dance the night away at the Rendezvous in Balboa in its glory days of big bands and swing music. Some of our fondest memories will be of the close knit group of families from Orange that were Dad and Mom’s friends who stuck together through thick and thin and took all of their kids everywhere with them! What a life in sweet Orange! In their later years, with kids grown, Dad and Mom traveled the world with other friends. They took many road trips throughout California and all over the USA. They traveled to Ireland and made Pilgrimages to Rome and Israel with son Fr. Christopher and sibs. Their family was delighted to see them travel and enjoy each other, after their many years of work raising their large family.
Words on a page do not nearly or adequately describe E.E. “Gene” Smith! He was faithful to his family and friends and a faith-filled model of joy, generosity and kindness. He was always looking ahead to make sure his family and friends were safe and cared for, that they knew they were valued. He loved a good meal, and was ever looking for “just a little snack” to tide him over. He liked to be well dressed and consulted his sons and grandsons to be sure he was “in style”. He was the model of fidelity to his Creator, his wife and children, his friends and the City of Orange. Gene Smith often said about Orange: “There are towns where people move and pass through. But in Orange, people stay.” We will all miss his wonderful sense of humor and wit, his quick smile, that gorgeous head of hair that never thinned and especially, those twinkly blue eyes that never aged . Dad was not only a good man, but exceptional in his goodness and generosity of time, talent and treasure. With deep love and respect, we send him now to the arms of his beloved Joanie and His Lord.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to: Orange Little League or Holy Family School, Orange in Gene's memory.
Wake and Visitation: Sunday, Sept 17, 2017: 4:30-7:30 pm, Christ Cathedral Cultural Center
Mass of Christian Burial: Monday, Sept 18, 11 am, Christ Cathedral Arboretum
Burial following at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, Orange. Lunch following in the Atrium at
Christ Cathedral Cultural Center: 13280 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92840