John James “Jack” Smith of Whitehall passed away Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 with family in Butte.
Jack was born on February 2nd, 1930 in Whitehall, to Albert H. and Edith (Hopper) Smith. Jack grew up on the family farm, just south of town, with his six siblings and attended Whitehall schools. His school days and childhood were cut short when his mother left their home in his late elementary years. He had to quit school and stayed home to help his father and older brothers run their dairy, which today houses the Jefferson Valley Museum. Jack and family could be found milking cows, feeding calves, along with delivering milk and cream to homes, schools and restaurants in and around Whitehall and Butte.
In his teen years Jack worked on various ranches and for the railroad. He played a part in the construction of many spur lines in the Whitehall area. Like his siblings before him, Jack soon decided to enlist with the U.S. Army in 1953 and became a heavy equipment operator. He left home to attend basic training at Fort Ord in California and was later stationed at Toul-Rosières Air Base in France. Once there he was assigned to runway construction and maintenance. After his service with the Army he was missing home, so he returned to Montana.
He married the love of his life, Olive George, on January 7th, 1956 and over the next seven years they were blessed with 5 boys. Jack often could be found working two jobs or more at any given time to keep food on the table while Olive and the boys would run the Smith Ranch.
He began working as an underground miner in Anaconda, and then moved on to work for F and S Construction in Butte. Later he started Smith Construction with the purchase of his first bulldozer and in 1968 he began working at the Golden Sunlight Mine where he stayed on more than 46 years.
Jack enjoyed a good game of checkers or pool, watching football games, boxing matches and Westerns on TV, and spending time with his grandkids. He kept busy by driving his John Deere gator checking fence and flood irrigating. Friends and family stopped by the ranch for visits and he always had a story about farming, building roads and of course boxing.
Jack is preceded in death by his wife, Olive, his parents, his siblings Joe Smith, Ruth (Tom) Hawkins, Edna (George) Marcott, Richard “Bud” Smith, Leon “Cappy” (Merle) Smith, and Alma Buckley also his in-laws, Guy and Lucille George, Leona (Bill) Buyan, Gloria (John) Broksle, Guy (Arline) George and Rose Shoemaker and also great granddaughter Daniela Smith.
He is survived by his sons and their spouses, John (Deanna) Smith, David Smith and Gwen Kline, Paul (Shannon) Smith, Larry (Konni) Smith and Mike (Robin) Smith; his grandchildren, Jonathan (Diana) Smith and Jordana Smith; Shawna (Kaleb) Barrett, Whit(Courtney) Smith and Chad(Alex) Smith; Tyler Smith, Ian Smith and Jenny Smith; Will Smith and Brooke Smith; Katherine Smith, Brandon(Kamrie) Smith and Dylan Smith; his great grandchildren, Thomas and Andrea Smith; Jett and Trey Barrett; Kade, Lane and Rylee Smith; Easton and Nolan Smith; Adalynn, Josephine and baby boy Smith in November; also sister-in-law, Beverly Smith, brother-in-law Bud Shoemaker; special friend Lynn Smith; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
Funeral services will be Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 at 10:00am at K&L Mortuary in Whitehall. Interment will follow with military honors at the Whitehall Cemetery. Please join the family for lunch at the Whitehall Community Center.
Memorials can be made in Jack’s honor to the Jefferson Valley Museum in Whitehall or a charity of donor’s choice.