Donald K. Smith, 87, passed away Oct. 19, 2014, at his home in Hood River, Ore. Born April 20, 1927, in Lincoln, Neb., he was the son of William and Francis Faulkner Smith. DK joined the Navy after graduating from high school in Lincoln in 1944. He served on the USS Enterprise, as a fireman second class V6, and received the Victory Medal. After his tour with the Navy he returned to Nebraska to attend the University of Nebraska, where he made many lifelong friends. He majored in English, and minored in theatre arts and fine arts.
After graduation from the university, DK ventured to Colorado, where in Pueblo he initially taught art and English at Freed Junior High, and when the new East High School opened its doors DK became the drama coach and English teacher. DK inspired many a young thespian, as well as, all the back-scenes disciplines from lighting, sound and props to painting amazing backdrops. He had one student go to Broadway and another to Hollywood as a sitcom actor. DK was again listed as one of East’s favorite teachers this last spring, nearly 50 years later! The theatre was his home and he was happy there in any capacity, but also very happy to share his great love of the theatre with others.
In 1965 his family, wife Donna and three children, Sherrie, Mark and Lisa, moved to Portland, Ore., where he taught English for several years at Marshall High School. One of his favorite getaways was Cannon Beach, where he often flew kites and took classes.
While flying his kite in front of Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, he chanced upon the Dueber clan. That encounter led to the meeting of Betty Dueber and their subsequent marriage in 1971. This marriage, the second for both, resulted in a family of 12: three children from DK’s former marriage and nine from Betty’s.
During their 10 years in Cannon Beach DK produced, directed and starred in many theatre productions at the Cannon Beach Coaster Theatre. And for many years, he owned “Once Upon a Breeze,” the first kite shop on the Oregon Coast. The couple moved to Winthrop, Wash., in 1982 where they owned and operated The Buttery for five years. When they left for Winthrop they had only three grandchildren; however nine years later there were nearly a dozen grandchildren living too far away from them so they decided to move to Hood River, Ore., in 1991 to be much closer to family.
He and Betty traveled extensively here and abroad. And as DK would say, “We never met a stranger.” Indeed their home is an open, welcoming door for people to come and share their stories and friendship.
DK is known for his love of the arts and was adept as a watercolorist and his pencil renditions of people and architecture. He was an avid and longtime journal writer, chronicling his travels, people he met, story ideas and notable events with family and friends. He told many humorist stories and anecdotes with his trademark accents, hand gestures and the ever-present twinkle in his eye.
DK, a husband, a dad, a teacher, an actor, a coach, a mentor, an artist, an inspiration ... AMAZING! Always loved and forever missed!
DK is survived by his wife, Betty, their 12 children, 32 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A private service will be held for family and friends. Memorial gifts may be made to Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River, Ore.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson’s Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations), 1401 Belmont Ave., Hood River, OR 97031; 541-386-1000. Please visit andersonstributecenter.com to leave a note of condolence for family.
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