Thursday, April 21, 2016
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and drinks will be served.
Friday, April 22, 2016
10:00 AM EDT
St. Augustine Cathedral
542 West Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Patrick B. Smith was a busy man who always had time for his family. He was generous and kind, loving and forgiving. Ambitious and assertive, he got the job done. Confident in his role as father and educator, he inspired his children and his students with such phrases as “Finish the race” and “Stay the course.” Throughout his life, Patrick was an example of those very words.
Patrick was born January 21, 1938 in Bay City, Michigan as the United States was trying to recover from economic depression and political matters were stirring in Europe. Americans were inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats and worked hard to maintain the nation’s peace and prosperity. Patrick was the son of Eldon and Bernadette (Byrnes) Smith and the fourth of six children. He was a mischievous boy, to say the least, but found an outlet for his energy in sports and outdoor activities. When he was 7 years old, the family relocated to Long Beach, California, but at age 14, Patrick went back to Michigan to live with his Aunt Rita and Uncle Mack MacAvoy on their farm in Owosso. It was a good move for him, save for the fact that he had to make up an additional year of schooling because of the shuffling around. Patrick came to love farming and helped his uncle a great deal with his soybean crops. He played football in high school and excelled in basketball, eventually reaching a height of 6’3”.
After graduating from St. Paul's High School in Owosso, Patrick returned to California to attend Long Beach State University and play basketball for one year. He did very well there, but soon enough he was back in Michigan as a history major at Michigan State University, securing a Master’s Degree in Counseling and establishing himself as a lifelong MSU fan. He was involved in student life at Delta Tau Delta Fraternity on campus, and also was an off-campus housing director. One of his jobs was to raid parties and break them up; although he was known as the campus “party pooper”, such experience and seriousness would prove advantageous to his career in administration.
While at MSU, Patrick met his future wife at St. John's Student Center. The two were introduced by a friend and Patrick promptly forgot Marcia’s name (he was never brilliant with names), but he knew he wanted to get to know her better. Patrick and Marcia dated for nearly three years before marrying on July 14, 1967 at St. James Catholic Church in her hometown of Ferndale, Michigan. Not surprisingly, they honeymooned in California in the dream world of Disneyland.
The newlyweds returned to MSU, where Patrick completed a Doctorate of Education degree before taking a job in Portland, Maine as Dean of Students for approximately three years. With the promise of a good job awaiting him, Patrick found himself at Cal State Northridge as Dean of Students, with the challenge of building a sports center there. The task was a natural for a man who had always been a sports enthusiast as well as an advocate of education.
Crisscrossing the country again, Patrick moved his family to Brockport, New York to serve as Vice President of Student Affairs at The College at Brockport State University of New York. The remainder of his career was spent in Michigan, first in the lower and then the upper peninsulas. In Kalamazoo, Patrick was President of Nazareth College from 1983-1989 and again oversaw the building of a sports complex. In Climax, he was Principal of Climax Schools for one year while he earned a second master’s degree in Educational Leadership. From there, he went to Boyne Falls and was instrumental in passing building bonds during his term as Superintendent. Patrick was then Superintendent of Marquette Public Schools for five years before retiring in 2003. The Upper Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior was a fitting location for him in many ways. He finished out a successful career and indulged in his hobbies of hunting (deer and pheasant) and fishing. Such sports were also his preferred recreation when the family spent time at their cottage on St. Joe’s Island, just across the border in Ontario, Canada.
Over the years, Patrick and Marcia involved their children in outdoor adventures, whether camping out west in a pop-up when the kids were young or traveling to Europe with the entire family. The two of them played golf together, volunteered with Special Olympics, traveled to see grandchildren and wintered in Florida for many years, with the last five spent in Citrus Hills. Patrick was an active member of the Rotary, St. Augustine Cathedral and the Knights of Columbus. During his “leisure” time he cut trees, split wood, gardened, canned, pickled, preserved jams, farmed and bombed around in his red Ford F-150 truck. “I want to be buried in it,” he said of his beloved pick-up. Additionally, he was very handy around the house and helped his children with their homes. He went to movies (maybe just for the popcorn) and liked eating spaghetti and pizza and drinking his Fosters, Killian and Guinness beers.
Patrick was an avid reader—especially of Tom Clancy novels—and was a good enough writer to want to author a book of his own during retirement. But all too soon, dementia set in and he lived with Alzheimer’s disease for his final seven years. Still, the impact of Patrick’s life remains among the many who were privileged to know him.
Dr. Patrick B. Smith, aged 78 of Kalamazoo, Michigan, died Monday, April 18, 2016 at Rose Arbor Hospice in Kalamazoo. He was preceded in death by 2 brothers, Jerry and Dick Smith. Surviving are his wife of 49 years, Marcia Smith; 4 children: Cristyn (Timothy) White, Jeanette Elston, Brien Smith and Erin (William) Martin; 8 grandchildren: Kaitlin, Patrick, Colin, Emma, Natalie, Brien, Jack and Madeline; 3 siblings: Tom (Marge) Smith, Michael (Margaret) Smith and Kathleen (Gerald) Brock and many nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and drinks on Thursday from 5:00 – 8:00 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday 10AM at St. Augustine Cathedral followed by a luncheon in the church hall. Please visit Patrick’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Alzheimer’s Association.