Robert “Smitty” Smith, Jr., 1947 ~ 2011

Castle Valley’s beloved Robert Bennett “Smitty” Smith passed away at dawn on Nov. 9, 2011 after a short illness. Known for his friendly disposition, cheerful smile, and especially his love of the river, Smitty “The Daily Lama”, spent his final summer camped out on the Colorado River, the place he loved to be more than anywhere else.

Born to World War II veteran Robert B. Smith Sr. and Leola “Pat” Smith in Battle Creek, Mich. on April 3, 1947, Smitty grew up in Michigan. After attending Roosevelt Military Academy and playing varsity football, he attended Michigan State University, later moving to Tucson, Ariz. He enrolled in the University of Arizona and later worked teaching real estate and in the construction industry.

In Tucson he met lifelong friends and future Grand County transplants Susie, Linda, and Mark Wittkoph, Jerry Ribyot, and Jay Zuckerman.

First arriving in Grand County in 1977 after the late Linda Wittkoph discovered Moab and Castle Valley on a summer vacation, Smitty became a resident of Castle Valley. Smitty fell in with the Sidewinder River crowd and began his love for running the local rivers, as well as camping and fishing in the La Sal Mountains.

Always ready to celebrate life, Smitty had a knack for making friends instantly, and well over 200 of his friends of all ages turned out to remember him at a gathering last Sunday in Moab. The gathering was both somber and joyous, as Smitty would have wanted, and many of his friends signed a farewell on the tubes of his familiar red raft.

Having lost his parents in recent years, Smitty is survived by his brother, Jerry Smith and family of Savage, Minn. His extended family of friends, both old and new, will miss him dearly, especially the thought most often on his mind: “When we going boatin’?”

Shadows of Sun

by Glen Rocky Brougham

Dedicated to Robert B. “Smitty” Smith, the “Daily Lama” Moab, Utah

Nov. 9, 2011, 9 a.m.

Gone the spark of illumination,

Of heartbeat, breath and mind.

And now the shell of life’s burdens

Is all that’s left behind.

And yet there is another thing

As real as shadows of sun

It is the memories of the deeds

That live long after he’s gone

We see him at his front door

We remember him at dinner

We know him in his festiveness

We feel him on the river

And as the hours turn to days

And time marks the years

We will long joke and laugh

Past the flow of tears.

So much is life here and gone

And who are we to say

That all what we live for

Will be gone another day

So in the gloom of this loved one past

We will remember all the times

Of river, camp and adventure

Smitty was a friend of mine