Robert L. (Smitty) Smith, 81, a lifelong Coudersport resident and an active, visible supporter of the community, died Saturday, March 9, 2019, at Sweden Valley Manor after a long illness.
He touched countless lives through the decades as a business operator, Rotarian, singer and theatrical performer, radio announcer, music lover and a dedicated supporter of Coudersport High School sports.
Smitty was born Jan. 20, 1938, in Coudersport, the son of Carl and Rose Spong Tower Smith. He was a graduate of Coudersport High School, where he was a member of the band.
He had several odd jobs after graduation before he was hired as an announcer at Radio Station WFRM in Coudersport. There, popular radio personality Ed Easton took Smitty under his wing. His weekly Sunday on-air shift earned him the nickname, “The Deacon.”
An avid collector of 45-rpm rock ‘n roll records, he began to offer his services as a deejay for “record hops” in town. Eventually, he followed his love of contemporary music into the business world by opening his own store, “Smitty’s Record Cellar,” at a former barber shop in the basement of the Hotel Crittenden.
He would relocate his business to three other storefronts, expanding his product line and evolving it to a video rental operation.
When he wasn’t tending to his store, Smitty could be found playing community basketball or softball; bowling at George Olin’s bowling alley on North Main Street and, later, at Old Hickory Lanes down the street; playing golf in Coudersport and Emporium; performing in local musicals; singing with the barbershoppers, community chorus and church choir; and serving the community as one of the longest-tenured members of the Coudersport Rotary Club.
No retrospective of Smitty’s life would be complete without mentioning his rabid allegiance to his favorite professional sports teams – the Boston Celtics, Green Bay Packers, and especially the Philadelphia Phillies. He often referred to the Phillies’ rise to the World Series championship in 1980 was one of the highlights of his life.
He was also a fan of college basketball, with an affinity for the Duke University Blue Devils. Smitty will always be remembered as one of the most loyal followers of the high school football and basketball teams. In recognition of that, the Coudersport Rotary Club has decided to name one of its annual outstanding athlete awards as a memorial to Smitty.
He was an active member of the First United Presbyterian Church in Coudersport, where he sang in the choir and served for several years on the church’s governing council.
When he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017, Smitty approached the treatment regimen with faith in God and a frequent expression of thanksgiving for a fulfilling life. He reaffirmed his faith over the final weeks of his life, which ended just hours after the Coudersport High School boys’ basketball team stopped to see him on its way to a state playoff game that evening in St. Marys.
He was predeceased by his parents; a sister, Shirley Smith Wesley, and brother-in-law, David Wesley; and a nephew, Carter Lamoreaux.
Survivors include two nephews, Robert Wesley and wife Lynn, of New Orleans, La., and David Wesley of Whitefish, Mont.; a niece, Karen Baker and husband Dave of Whitefish, Mont; great-nieces Kelsey Baker, Megan Baker and Ava Lamoreaux; and a great-nephew, Blake Lamoreaux.
A memorial service will be held at 2 pm Sunday, March 17, at the First United Presbyterian Church at Fourth and Main Streets in Coudersport, with Co-Pastors Donald R. Caskey and Warren B Cederholm Jr. officiating. Burial will be in Eulalia Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Coudersport Sports Boosters or Coudersport Music Boosters, both at 698 Dwight Street; or the First United Presbyterian Church, 402 North Main Street, all at Coudersport PA 16915.
Thomas E. Fickinger Funeral Home of Coudersport is in charge of arrangements.