Tuesday, June 21, 2005
6:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Thursday, June 23, 2005
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Community of Christ
Southern Great Lakes International Mission Center,
U of M School of Dentistry
Alumni Association, Alumni Center, 200 Fletcher St
88th Division Memorial Foundation
P.O. Box 8795 Lancaster, PA 17604
Life Story / Obituary
Otis Andrew Smith was the picture of determination and enthusiasm, making the most of the opportunities that life brought his way. He was frugal and disciplined, but he was also fun-loving with a good sense of humor. A dedicated husband, father, and grandfather, he did his best to provide his family with a safe and loving home, taking care to let them know how much they meant to him.
Otis was the second of Joseph and Olive Smith's four children. He was born on September 16, 1921, in Tawas City, Michigan, a small town near Lake Huron's coastline. The children learned about hard work and the importance of pitching in by helping out on the family farm, but also had time for fun, ice-skating on Lake Huron and playing hockey and touch football with the neighbor kids. Times were tough and the stock market crash of 1929 plunged the nation into the Great Depression, causing unemployment to soar and creating economic havoc for the world. The Smith's were hit hard, and Otis remembered meals of nothing more than bread and milk to fuel his long walk to school everyday. But there were good times, as well, and he and his two sisters and brother learned how to make do with what they had, to be resourceful, and to appreciate the importance of family.
In high school, Otis played on the baseball team and was active in Speech and Debate. He stayed busy working on the farm and also held a job as a short order cook at Bay View Restaurant in East Tawas. He graduated from East Tawas High School with the class of 1939, the same year that Hitler invaded Poland and officially set World War II in motion. After high school, Otis decided to move to Detroit with nothing more than a dime in his pocket and a dream. He was alone and afraid, but fortunate to find a job at Timpkin's Axel and Steel on Fort Street and lodging at a Salvation Army until he was able to support himself.
Life took an unexpected turn in 1941 when Otis became one of many young American men who were drafted into military service. He was sent overseas and served as a sergeant with the United States Army, 88th Infantry Division, Reconnaissance Platoon. After the defeat of the Axis in North Africa, Otis and his division participated in the Italian Campaign beginning in 1943, driving the Axis forces out of Sicily and eventually the entire peninsula, ultimately contributing to the capture of Mussolini and the surrender of Germany. He earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star as well as Good Conduct Medals and was eternally grateful to be among those who were able to return home to their loved ones.
After his military discharge in 1945, Otis returned to Timpkin's and burned the candle at both ends to achieve his dream of being a surgeon, working full-time and attending night school at the University of Detroit. He realized that he would not have the funds to complete medical school, so he chose to pursue dentistry, still desiring to help others. Utilizing his GI Bill benefits, and continuing working nights in the factory, he successfully earned his Bachelor's Degree, then worked his way through the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, graduating in 1956.
One evening, a co-worker from Timpkin's invited Otis to his home and introduced him to his daughter, a lady named Barbara Hamacher, who worked in accounting at the downtown Hudson's. Barbara was quite taken with Otis and was thrilled when he asked her out. They dated for about two and a half years, sharing movies, dances, laughter, and love. They exchanged vows on May 8, 1954, spending the next fifty years as partners and best friends.
After his graduation from U of M, Otis spent a year working at the Children's Hospital, then was able to open his own office in Detroit on the corner of Grand River and 1st Street. Soon thereafter, he moved his office to Joy Rd and Beech Daly in Redford, where it remained for over forty-eight years.
In 1955, Barbara and Otis shared the joy of the birth of their first child, their son, Clark. Over the next ten years, the family would grow to include five more children, and Otis showered each one with support and love, always wanting the best for them. He encouraged them to be open-minded and to pursue education, stressing the importance of perseverance and discipline in their endeavors. He was supportive of their activities, teaching them to pursue their dreams. He attended their sporting events and in fact coached Little League for sixteen years until all of them were through the program. He allowed the kids to have whatever pets they wanted, including a beautiful purebred collie and even rabbits.
Otis loved nothing more than spending time with his family, and packing everyone into the station wagon and heading off for vacations made for some of their sweetest memories, especially a particular trip to Florida. He shared his enjoyment of sports with them, making an ice rink for them every winter and taking them to hockey games at Olympia and also to Tiger baseball games. They attended plays at the Fisher Theatre, spent hours tinkering with cars, and tirelessly cheered for the Wolverines together.
Otis considered his patients as his extended family and cared deeply for them, continuing in his practice as long as he could. He worked four days a week, even into his eighties, and demanded the best from his staff for the benefit of his patients. Besides his dental practice and years of Little League service, Otis supported the community in several other ways, as well. He was a board member and past president of the "Blue Devils," the 88th Infantry Division Association, was a member of the Farmington Elks, and was an Elder and a leader of the Men's Club at the Community of Christ Church.
Professionally, he was an active member and officer of the Southwestern component of the Detroit District Dental Society and a longstanding member of the Michigan Dental Association. He was also an active member of the prestigious Russell W. Bunting Periodontal Study Club and the Vedder Crown and Bridge Study Club for over thirty years.
When the family grew to include grandchildren, he showed them the same support and love he had expressed to his own children, attending countless dance and song recitals, soccer games, and school plays, always attentive and proud of their efforts. His greatest days were the ones when the whole family was together, reveling in the happy chaos of holidays and special occasions. His strength of character, sense of fairness, and willingness to show his love remain as a glowing example to his family that will continue to influence them for years to come.
Otis died on Sunday, June 19, 2005, at his home in Bloomfield Hills. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; children, Clark (Kim), Kurtis (Pamela), Joan Allison (Glenn) Curtis, Clayton D. (Annette), Andrea (Ed) Ford, and Karla (Dave) Mallett; grandchildren, Leigh, Ashley, Torie, Bradley, Eddie, Christopher, Andrew, Maddie, Katie, Caroline, Laine, Natalie, and Alexis; sister, Joye Giroux; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Visitation will be at McCabe Funeral Home, 31950 W 12 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, on Tuesday, June 21, from 6 - 9 p.m. and Wednesday, June 22, from 2 - 4 p.m. and from 6 - 9 p.m. Funeral services will be Thursday, June 23, at Community of Christ Church, 12401 Ridge Road, Plymouth, in-state at 10:30 a.m. and the service at 11:00 a.m. Please visit Otis' personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory, order flowers, or make a memorial contribution to Community of Christ Church, Southern Great Lakes International Mission Center, Bluewater Reunion Grounds, the U of M School of Dentistry Alumni Association, or the 88th Division Memorial Foundation.