Steven 'Smitty' F. Smith
September 15, 2022
DULUTH, Minn. - Steven "Smitty" F. Smith, 76, died Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, while surrounded by his loving family at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, from complications related to cancer.
He was born June 1, 1946, in Freiburg, Germany, and adopted at age two by Oliver and Jeanne (Holemo) Smith. Though the family's home base was Ironwood, Michigan, they spent Steve's childhood and adolescence moving to U.S. Army military installations stateside and the around the world, including Germany, Japan, Mississippi, Georgia and North Dakota.
In 1964, Smitty graduated from Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia. In 1967, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and, after basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, was deployed with the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion in the Vietnam War at Dak To and Pleiku. He had nearly completed his 12-month tour before being wounded in action in 1968. Smitty was medically discharged at 22 and awarded the Purple Heart.
Smitty met Darlene "Cookie" Dahl, who he married in 1969. They had four children and resided in Hurley, Wisconsin. He worked at the White Pine Mine and attended night classes at Gogebic Community College.
Smitty earned an associate of science degree in auto mechanics and welding from Wisconsin Indian Technical College in Ashland, Wisconsin. He was arguably one of the best auto mechanics the Gogebic Range had ever seen.
He worked at Chum's, then alternated between Gotta Motors, Cloverland Motors and Ironwood Motors for 30 years, spending 18 years as a shop foreman. He specialized in transmission repair but could do most anything car-related and kept up with continuing education as technology evolved.
On July 28, 1990, Steve married his present wife of 32 years, Jennifer (nee Pull) Ahonen. They resided the rest of his life at their properties in Kimball, Wisconsin, where he expanded the lawns and gardens continuously. He cherished Jennifer and he embraced their blended family.
Smitty was a proud Vietnam Veteran and a member of the Vietnam Veterans Association Chapter 529, in Hurley, Wisconsin.
Smitty served his community. When his boys were young, he coached Little League and Babe Ruth baseball for years. He was a Town of Kimball Supervisor for 10 years and an Iron County Board Supervisor for nearly as long. He was an Iron County representative of the Bad River Watershed Association in the 2000s and a Kimball Volunteer Fire Department member. Even after he was no longer able to firefight, Smitty could be found in the kitchen for many years at the annual spring firemen's turkey feed.
Classic car restoration was his lifelong passion, even though he had many pastimes, including gardening, food preservation, Lake Superior beach combing and rock polishing, boating and woodworking.
The understatement of the century would be to say Smitty was a hot rod fanatic. He threw his enthusiasm, time, and expertise into a project and hit the car show circuit with each one. At shows, he always seemed to come home with trophies and it is where he made many friends throughout the years. His latest restoration was a stunning red 1923 Track Roadster.
Steve loved his family without bounds. His wife was his rock and partner. He guided his kids without mincing words and always with loving intentions. He delighted in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
No one could tell a story like Steve, and he rarely did so without leaving his listeners in stitches.
His pets were a priority, and he loved and cared for each one of them like family members.
Steve was preceded in death by his parents and several aunts and uncles.
His survivors are his beloved wife, Jennifer; four children, Bradley "Dudley" (Karin) Smith, of Kimball; Keith (Vanessa) Smith, of Somerset, Wisconsin; Heidi (Gary Zindorf) Doney, of Gile, Wisconsin; and Corey (Cassie) Smith, of Hampshire, Illinois; three stepchildren, Jacqueline (Craig Swerdfiger) Vertigan, of Otsego, Julie (Tim) Huotari, of Woodruff, and Dale Ahonen, of Hurley; 13 grandchildren, Jordan and Emily Smith, Aleah Nasi, Cameron Smith, Marcus Doney, Adalynn and Lydia Smith, Julia Mosconi, Olivia Mosconi (Zach Cassutt), Drake Swerdfiger, Jenna (Qafar) Masomi, Mason Wroblewski and Jacie Huotari; two great-grandchildren, Lucas Smith, and Sekander Masomi; and many other relatives, neighbors and innumerable friends.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Kimball Community Center, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Full military rites will be conducted at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates contributions in Steve's name to the Vietnam Veterans' Association Chapter 559, P.O. Box 155, Hurley, WI, 54534; and/or the HOPE Animal Shelter by clicking on the "donate" button at hopeanimalshelter.org.
The family has chosen McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home of Ironwood to honor Steven's legacy of life. You can leave condolences or a tribute at mckevittpatrickfuneralhome.com.