The last day in the field.
Robert Smith passed quietly at home with his beloved wife, Thelma, at his side at their ranch in the Upper Blanco Basin on Aug. 7. Robert was born in 1938 in South Saint Louis, Mo., at the end of the Great Depression and the start of WWII. It was a different generation, one that only knew self-sufficiency and the constant struggle to make ends meet. Like putting cardboard in your shoe when the sole grew too thin or eating a lettuce sandwich because there was nothing else.
Robert met his wife, Thelma, in grade school and the two were forever inseparable. After marriage, they began the long walk together. Their teacher, David Gartner, urged both of them to finish high school and gave them the confidence to extend through college where they both attained their teaching degrees and moved to Pagosa Springs in the early ‘60s. Robert was a teacher and counselor in the Pagosa Springs school district, the town magistrate and a counselor within the New Mexico State Prison System.
During those years, Thelma and Robert were steadily improving upon their property in the Upper Blanco Basin. Thelma provided the inspiration and the manpower to carve out their home from what was then still raw wilderness and her husband learned by doing. Everyone agrees that Robert was the basis of the children’s book “My Dad Can Fix Anything.” There was never a carpenter, plumber, electrician or mechanic on the property. His one passion was the vehicles from his youth that he bought, repaired and restored including his ‘29 Ford Phaeton, ‘32 Ford Roadster and a long list of sleek lacquered Jaguars which only Thelma drove. He was a founding member of the “Skunks” hot rod club, wore white T-shirts and a pack of Camel Humps rolled up in the shirtsleeve and a mint called Sen Sen in his pocket.
No services are planned at this time, and the family hopes that this litany brought a smile to your face. True, it is the end of something, but, moreover, it is the start of life’s next chapter in the book written by a man of the greatest generation and that of his wife beside him.