WILMINGTON — David Walter Smith, 80, died peacefully on Tuesday with his daughter by his side, due to complications of dementia, which he battled for almost a decade. He was born at a very young age in Belfast, Maine. He insisted that joke be included. He was the first of two children born to Frances and Rexford Smith, and grew up in Bucksport, ME. He is survived by his only child, Amy Smith Pierce, son-in-law Troy Pierce, grandson, Jackson Chase Pierce, brother Gary Smith, niece Rebecca Schmelzer, nephew Jeffrey Smith, several cousins, former wife and friend, Diana Smith, and life-partner Mary “Ann” Blair.
David graduated 2nd Honor Essay from Bucksport High School in 1959, during which time he was a National Honor Society member, basketball starter, won 2nd place in the State Foul Shooting Championships and won 1st place in Prize Speaking, among other accomplishments. At 77, he could still beat his guests in a game of HORSE on his beloved homemade basketball court at his lakeside cabin, outside of Bucksport. This “camp” was his happy place, built by his father and uncle in 1951, and is his ancestral legacy to his remaining family. David was nominated to go to West Point and was accepted to Princeton but chose to attend the University of Maine, Orono, where he was a dedicated Delta Tau Delta fraternity brother. He worked his way through college, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, and a Master’s in Pulp and Paper.
David’s first job was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in technical sales. He soon moved south via Wilmington, DE, where he married Diana and was a Senior Processing Engineer for Hercules, both there and in Charlotte, NC, where his daughter was born. Soon after, he left Hercules and took a risk to help revive Lucas Concrete, a small, family-owned business, from 1972-74. He then briefly worked for a construction company that built bridges and was a substitute teacher. David and family finally settled in Wilmington, NC in 1976 where they joined the UU Congregation of Wilmington, which provided a loving community for the rest of his years. He worked as a manager for Federal Paper Board in Riegelwood, now International Paper. In the late 70s, David purchased several rental properties around town, which kept him busy. He loved those old houses, and was an attentive and generous “slumlord.” He was a devoted charter member of the Wilmington Road Runners Club for 25 years, running 25K+ miles, hundreds of road races, and winning the Road Runner of the Year award in 1983. Running was truly his passion, and his closest remaining friends are his former running and YMCA buddies. After leaving IP in 1982, David focused for a few years on the properties and enjoying his burgeoning relationship with Ann, who would be his life partner for 33 years. In 1986, David utilized his writing talents, working for Training Systems as a technical writer, then formed Delta Training Partners in 1995 with three colleagues who became dear friends. Though he left ‘Delta T’ in 1995, David never really retired, pursuing his real estate interests, until his failing health required him to withdraw from public life.
David had many cherished friends and extended family members, with whom he actively stayed in touch. He valued equality, kindness, perseverance, hard work, having fun, fiscal frugality, nature conservancy, physical fitness, ruthless croquet games, and Maine doughnuts. He had joie de vivre and was always the life of the party, his baby blues and smile lighting up the room every time. David’s bright, vibrant soul will be missed by all who knew and loved him.
For memorial service information & updates, please visit his tribute page at Tranquility Cremation by Aquamation: https://www.waternotfire.com/obituaries/David-Smith-259/ .
In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Wilmington, Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust and Lower Cape Fear Life Care. Many thanks to the UUCW for their caring support over the years.