Dad/Grampy/Grampy Bug/’GERALD!’ was timeless….His presence, compassion and leadership permeated every organization, community, family and friendship gathering in which he participated. When he lost Mom, Claire Smith, Dad assumed the role of Mom and Dad for his children and grandchildren and participated in every major life event that occurred, no matter where or how he felt. Even at 93, most considered Dad to be in his 70s. His life’s goal was to create friendships and bring delight to people’s lives. This shows through all of the laughter, memories and silly stories that people tell to this day, including the friends who went skydiving with him at age 84 and the extraordinary nursing team who cared for him during his last days at Riverwoods Manchester. Dad’s spirit and the joy he spread continues to be shared among his family and friends, those who considered him their hero, and the many souls who became “Gerry’s kids”.
Gerry left an enduring mark on the world. He was born on September 24, 1929 in Cambridge, MA to Everett Charles and Lillian (Lockwood) Smith and will now rest aside Claire (Picard) Smith, a magnificent Mother, the love of his life and bride of 57 years. He was the middle child among a family of five siblings and was raised and educated in Somerville, MA.
As an adolescent he was one of two accomplished local boxers, the other was his best friend, Sweeney. They were the crowd favorites and often paid to box competitively during intermissions at the Golden Gloves events held at Copley Square. They would often use their winnings to go horseback riding under the moonlight at Revere Beach.
He was a veteran of the Korean War, having enlisted in the U.S. Army (1948), and trained with the 82nd Airborne. He served his country as a supply Sargent and was honorably discharged (1953) as Sargent First Class.
He was employed as an assemblyman for Ford Motor Company and later as a postal worker; soon leaving to join the family business, Radiant Venetian Blind in Cambridge, with his father and brother, Lawrence. In 1964, he and Claire purchased Johnson-Smith Window Fashions in Manchester, NH, where he was President and operated this family business for 35 years. His legacy was continued by his son, Ken.
Later in life Gerry enjoyed ballroom dancing, league bowling, golfing, ballroom dancing with Mom, and staying in shape and socializing at Planet Fitness. He was a championship cribbage player and loved the game of poker. He loved wintering in Fort Myers, Florida and in The Villages with Claire.
One of the most wonderful days of his life was as a participant in Honor Flight New England, with his son-in-law in September 2021. He spoke of it often with pride and deep gratitude.
Strengthening his family was his top priority and pride in his accomplished grandchildren was limitless. He is survived by his children, Debra Smith and her husband Kevin Shea; Kenneth Smith and his wife Sharon (Carse); Lisa Thorne and her husband Tom; his four grandchildren, Kaylee Smith, Kristie Smith, Griffin Leclerc, and Madison Thorne; his sister, Shirley (Smith) DiRusso; and brother, Lawrence Smith.
He is predeceased in his passing by his beloved wife, Claire (Picard) Smith; sister, Bernice (Smith) Barnaby; and brother, Donald Smith
Dad is remembered for the way he made people feel. It was impossible to encounter Gerry, and not feel uplifted. He built rapport and changed a person’s perspective to a positive one in a matter of seconds. His glass was more than half full; it was overflowing and he was always willing to share his enthusiasm. He brought hope and relieved pain with a simple compliment, a smile, a bit of humor, or singing while walking through the halls regardless of who was nearby. Other times, he was digging, planting, or involved in reconstruction projects alongside family, friends or neighbors.
Gerry was entertaining, humorous, adventurous, genuine, curious, lovable, charming, humble, jovial and generous with his time. His charm, ingenuity, and authentic personality were characteristics that led to his nomination for numerous leadership roles including: Sargent First Class, U.S. Army, Korean War; President, Knights of Columbus Council 5260 bowling league (winter) and golf league (summer); President, Trinity High School parents club; Chairman, Trinity High school board; President, Dale Carnegie speakers class; President, Hideaway Country Club condo association; Life Member, Knights of Columbus Council 5260; and, long time member of Intervale Country Club. His ability to lead was grounded in his self-appointment as the leader of “Smitty’s Gang” at the age of 10 in Somerville, MA.
We will forever love and respect the man who taught us through his actions:
Year after year, he worked diligently to perfect his lawn and garden beds. From this we learned, “the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence; your own is greener when you work hard at it”.
He was admired for living by the concept of “taking the first step, and figuring things out as he went along”. From this we learned confidence, critical thinking and how to break through limitations with courage and conviction.
He taught us to work hard and become indispensible, “Be the one they can’t live without” so that we would always have employment.
He was a resident of Riverwoods, Manchester, where he thrived in his later years. The Smith family extends its deepest appreciation to this remarkable community of medical professionals, friends and caregivers.
Condolences can be offered to the family during a gathering at Phaneuf Funeral Home, 243 Hanover Street, Manchester NH on Friday, September 8, 2023 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., followed by a memorial service at 4:00 p.m. A Celebration of Gerry’s Life is planned at the Puritan Backroom immediately following. Burial will occur on September 9, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Manchester. Friends, please contact a family member by August 20 if you plan to join us for the Celebration of Life event. Gerry would love to see you there!
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Gerald Smith to:
Tunnels to Towers Foundation, (t2t.org), 2361 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10306
Honor Flight, New England, (honorflightnewengland.org) P. O. Box 16287, Hooksett, NH 03106