William Archer “Bill” Smith left the planet peacefully on Monday, April 18. He was 86 years old. Bill was born in Iowa City, Iowa, and raised in Oklahoma, the son of Wesley Archer Smith and Charity Bekins Smith. He and his wife, Frances, fell in love with Pagosa Springs and moved to this paradise in 1994.
Wild Bill Smith was larger than life, at once amusing, amazing and confounding. He lived his life nobly and outrageously, by his own terms, creating memories at every opportunity. Wild Bill was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He appreciated Tar Heel basketball, and leaned heavily on his Oklahoma ties as he rooted somewhat fanatically for the Oklahoma Sooners football team. He was an avid skier and tennis player and an accomplished pilot. He embraced his wanderlust, traveling far and wide — once on his horse, Connie, in the Texas Salt Grass Trail Ride; once on a cross-country motorcycle jaunt on his Honda 650; and many, many times in his beloved Cessna Cardinal (“two-niner-four five-five on final!”).
Wild Bill took his role as father and husband quite seriously, providing an abundance of opinion and guidance on everything from finances (“Don’t let your checkbook be the saddest book you ever read.”), to personal hygiene (“If you don’t floss, you’re going to have bad breath and never get a date.”) to global politics (“It is not our job to police the world.”). He cherished the USA and was truly thankful for his country and grateful to be an American.
Bill Smith worked for Shell Chemical Company for 32 years and the smartest thing he ever did was marry Frances Hayes Price in April of 1956. The Smiths settled in Houston, Texas, were members of the Houston Racquet Club and traveled extensively as a family, usually in a station wagon and always with a great sense of adventure. One such adventure led to Wild Bill leaving Franny at a gas station in Tennessee and then driving 289 miles over two state lines before he figured out she was no longer sleeping in the back, missing. They were married for nearly 59 years.
Wild Bill was a lifetime Episcopalian and is survived by his wife, Fran Smith; his children, Greg Smith, Kirk Smith and Debbie Smith LeHardy; their spouses, Becky Roberts Smith (Houston, Texas), Dixie Smith (Boise, Idaho) and Ward M. LeHardy, Jr. (Arlington, Va.); and their seven grandchildren, Attilie Smith Carrig and Eamon Carrig (Boston, Mass.), Harrison Smith (Austin, Texas), Olivia Smith (Dallas, Texas), Ward LeHardy III (Arlington, Va.), Will LeHardy (Arlington, Va.), Levi Smith (Boise, Idaho) and Emily Smith (Newburg, Ore.).
He loved dogs — all of them — even the crazy ones.
If you are so inclined, please send money to the Pagosa Springs Humane Society at P.O. Box 2230, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147; in memory of Wild Bill Smith.