Obituary: Donald Avery Smith
In Loving Memory of:
Don A. Smith
Jack of most trades,
Servant to All
Donald Avery Smith was a farm boy born to Ray and Erma Smith on May 11, 1936 in Plainview, Texas. He is predeceased by his younger brother Carly Smith and survived by his older brother Norman Smith and younger sister Jae Jones. Ray taught him to be handy on the farm and custom wheat harvests rigging and cajoling old equipment to perform well past its prime, a skill that would serve him and others well his entire life. Erma encouraged his love of music through high school band in Tulia, Texas where he graduated and went on to college at West Texas State in Canyon, Texas to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Instruction.
A natural born salesman, it was there that he met his first companion Mary Ella Patton, selling pots and pans to pay for school. She bought a deluxe set, paid cash and he proposed to her only to later discover that she had borrowed the money from a credit union! In 1957, they gave birth to Donna Smith, later Duvall, when he dropped out of college, auditioned for the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra and was awarded a scholarship. The scholarship and a side job playing for a “swing band” made ends meet, including payments for the pots and pans, and he graduated in 1959 proficient in all instruments.
His first job as a band director was in Sunray, Texas where he perhaps learned more than he taught, but was otherwise successful. He and Mary bought a dozer and a truck that he ran on the side, built a house (credit to his Uncle Thurman) and gave birth to sons Russ and Keith Smith. Grass never grew long under his feet and Akron, Colo. was the next stop where he taught band. Together with life-long friend John Shaw, also deceased, he started the Mile High Jazz Festival now in its 52nd year. He then went to the big leagues teaching band at Westminster, Colo., a suburb of Denver and “4A” school, the largest designation in Colorado at the time. This was the peak of his music career obtaining high marks and awards for his marching, concert and symphony bands. Trophies and plaques cluttered his office and meant little to him compared to the love and respect of his students and their parents. He was also a natural born leader. Again with John Shaw and others, he founded the Colorado Band Masters Association, now in its 50th year. Some years later, he was also instrumental in founding the Winter Park Music Festival with his sister Jae Jones, now in its 26th year.
He pursued a master’s degree in Education Administration and graduated in 1969 from Greeley, Colo. He took a job as high school principal at Middle Park High School in Grand County, Colo. He had always wanted to live in the mountains. His high energy, creativity and organizational skills once again earned him the admiration of students, teachers and community alike. Among the many programs that he and his teachers implemented, his pride and joy was an outdoor education program that involved week long raft trips for juniors and seniors. These trips featured group dynamics and a “solo night”, a truly life changing experience that continues to touch the lives of many.
In 1976, he became a realtor and established Smith and Company Real Estate in Winter Park a few years later. He grew the office quickly, started a property and rental management program for condominiums and developed a multi-family project. He later married Jan Cinocco and she became a valued and active partner in the success of Smith and Company. They hosted many family gatherings: house-boating in Lake Powell, fishing at Devil’s Thumb Ranch and snowmobiling up Vasquez Creek – fond memories and stories that will be long told. Perhaps their crowning achievement, other than raising Dean Cinocco, was narrowly avoiding bankruptcy in 1985 when the bottom dropped out of the real estate market. He was a mountain of integrity and a master juggler famous for always having a legal pad with multiple to-do lists. They recovered and lent a helping hand to many others that had been likewise devastated from the larger economic crisis of the era.
Often a pioneer and always a risk taker, fate smiled again some 10 years later when he developed the first subdivision Grand County had seen since the early ’80s. The large-acre estate type project sold out before the roads were finished and stimulated a land boom to follow. He developed several more communities ending at The Fairways at Pole Creek with the Ley Family (landowners, developers themselves and lasting friends) where he could be seen contentedly running a dozer to clear, smooth and shape the land to his liking. He had returned to the farm dirty, greasy and happy with a few bucks in his pocket!
The ’90s were busy, but somehow he managed to build a new church building during this time as well. The Presbyterian Church had outgrown its old building. Of course he didn’t build the church single-handedly, but with yellow pad in hand he instigated, envisioned, planned, enrolled, encouraged, pushed, pulled, implemented and persevered just as he always did nearly every day and in everything. The building was completed in nearly two years largely by volunteers. While he would humbly give credit to many others and mostly to God, locals driving by would say “that’s the church that Don built”.
In the early 2000s, he was looking for a place to rest and warm his bones from years spent in the mountains. He settled into the Texas Hill Country at Tapatio Springs, near Boerne, Texas where he met and married Vicki Elmore. His Christian faith deepened with this union as they gave of their time, talent and treasure to serve the Lord. He quickly became involved at First United Methodist Church as a Stephen Minister, Co-Director of the after school tutoring program, and the go-to guy whenever the church bus broke down or a new bus needed to be purchased. He supported Vicki’s mission work in Uganda in every way possible. Prior to his illness, he loved singing in the choir and participating in seasonal music productions. Don and Vicki traveled to Mexico on mission trips and many other places around the world for fun. His favorite place however was his back porch, which looked out on the 5th hole of the Valley Course at Tapatio Springs, where he said many times, “I am truly blessed”.
In the early morning of October 19, 2015 he left his body after struggling with emphysema for many years. He is survived by his wife Vicki Smith who eased his passing. He is predeceased by his daughter, Donna Duvall, and is survived by his sons Ron Duvall, Russ Smith, Keith Smith, Chris Elmore, Dean Cinocco and John Elmore and by his daughter Casey Schuhmacher and by his grandchildren Candace Daugherty, Mindy Smith, Brittany Smith, Lindy Duvall, Peter Duvall, Henry Schuhmacher, Christopher Cinocco, Sam Schuhmacher, Caden Cinocco, Georgia Schuhmacher, Claire Elmore, Emily Elmore, Tyler Elmore and Lauren Elmore. He was considered a father by many more.
He was synergy itself making the sum greater than its parts and lifting up countless individuals in the process. To our beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, friend and servant, you have a huge heart, peace be with you.
Matthew 23:11 “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant”
Services will be held 3 p.m. Saturday, November 7, First United Methodist Church, 205 James St., Boerne, TX 78006. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First United Methodist Church, Attn: After-School Tutoring Program, 205 James St., Boerne, TX 78006 or Uganda Tree of Life Ministries, Attn: Pastor Wilson’s Feeding Program, P.O. Box 132, Boerne, TX 78006.
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