Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Richard 'Smitty' Smith

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. - Richard "Smitty" Smith passed away peacefully on Nov. 21, 2021. Smitty was the son of the late Paul J. Smith and Helen Lahti, both of Negaunee. Smitty proudly served his country through three tours in Vietnam while in the U.S. Navy.

Afterwards he attended Northern Michigan University and received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. In Marquette, he worked for the Public Works Department and at UPPCO.

He and his wife, Deanna "D," purchased and ran the Walleye Lodge Resort on Lake Gogebic in Bergland. Smitty enjoyed a good party and loved to host family reunions at his resort. He was a member of the Lake Gogebic and Western U.P. chambers of commerce and the Marquette and White Pine American Legions. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish.

Smitty married into the "Cootware Clan" and was loved by his extended family. Smitty and D had two children together, Jaclyn and Crystal. Smitty also had two older girls from a previous marriage, Bridgit (Chris) Adams and Jennifer (Chad) Kielas. D loved to tease Smitty about his "four girls," but he got boys with his grandsons: Brendan, Connor, Liam, Van and Jax. Rich had one granddaughter, Samantha, who also made him proud.

Smitty is survived by his brothers, Paul and Don; his sisters, Paulette Samson and Judy Frailing; his sisters-in-law, Susie (Neil) Stenfors, Paulette (Mike) Holmes, Donna (Greg) Stahlmann and Michelle (Bill) Schirtzinger; and his best friend, Bob "Kaj" Katajamaki.

Smitty was preceded in death by his siblings, Patricia Zupancic, Susie Weber and Carol Rytkonen; his in-laws, Donna and Jack Cootware; and his brother-in-law, John Cootware.

In honor of Smitty, wear your jeans to the funeral and be ready to tell your favorite Smitty stories. In lieu of flowers (D's allergic), please make a donation to the Fisher House in Richard's name or send a non-flowering plant. Fisher House ( offers temporary housing and meals for veterans' families and we are forever thankful for how well they took care of us.

The memorial service will be held at Erickson, Rochon & Nash Funeral Home in Iron Mountain on Saturday, Dec. 11. There will be a visitation from 1 to 3 p.m., followed by the service at 3 p.m.

Erickson, Rochon & Nash Funeral Home ( is assisting the family.