John Smith 1946 – 2023
John Patrick Smith, 76, of Walker, MN, passed away on Monday, March 13, 2023, following a long and rare illness.
John was born in Cass Lake, MN, on March 29, 1946, to John and Frances (Gould) Smith. He was raised in Onigum and attended Walker schools until he left the area at age 16 to go to Chicago to live with his older brother Mike. He returned to Minnesota and worked for the railroad in Minneapolis where he met and married Diane Zelinsky. They had four sons and adopted their daughter.
The family lived in Alexandria for a time and then returned to the Walker area where they raised their children. He often spoke of the fun times he had with the kids on the snowmobiles and other play toys.
John later married Hannah Louise Staples and became stepfather to her three sons. Blending their families over the next 30 years, he became grandpa to 24 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
John was known for his strong work ethic, arriving at work a half hour early every day. Anyone who worked under John’s supervision respected him and was motivated to become a better employee.
After returning to Leech Lake Reservation, he used his carpentry degree from VoTech to work for Leech Lake Reservation Con-struction Company, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, and then took on the challenge of starting his own construction company. John loved working with wood. His artistic talent was evident when he took a piece of wood in his shop and turned it into a beautiful bird feeder or canoe-style shelf.
Symptoms of his illness began to appear and he had to leave his love of building things when he could no longer inhale the sawdust. He courageously gave up his beloved smoking after a stroke (although Double-mint gum took their place), and when he began to have trouble with balance and walking, he had to give up his work in building maintenance and security guard at Northern Lights Casino. But he never gave up his favorite thing, that of visiting his family and especially his grandchildren. He loved them with a passion. His wife was told more than once of John, “You take care of him; he is one of the good ones.”
John is survived by his wife Hannah Louise; sons: Troy (Shawn) Smith, Philip (Ruth) Smith, Perry Smith, Sr., and Jeffrey (Randi) Smith; and daughter Raya Smith; stepsons: Richard Staples, Scott (Kara) Staples, Michael (Josette) Staples, and Paul Staples; grandchildren: Andrew (Allison), Lena (Stormy), Perry Jr., Tyler, Zach (Brooke), Gabe (Maiha), Maxine (Andrew), Aaliyah, Kevin, Trenton (TJ), Logen, Daven, Devery, Danica (Isaiah), Michael (Devine), Lyla, Haley, Kate, Megan (David), Richard Jr. (Lenise), Alex (Gloria), Clifford (Sophia), Daniel, and Donovan; great-grandchildren: Aubree, Vienna, Kiyanna, Jade, Houston, Camilla, Lola, Jarren, Payton, Pierston, Jeremiah, Lyla Rose, Melani, Angel, Devion, Ella Louise, Ava, and Leiani; brothers Michael (Patti) Smith, Donald Wayne Smith, Robin Jordan, Terry Smith, and Jerry Ray Jordan; sisters: Gloria Jean Beaulieu, Kathy (Carl) Frazer, Theresa Jordan, Margaret (Ken Litzau) Jordan, and Beverly (Dale) Tatro.
He will be welcomed home by his mother Frances Jordan; father John Smith; grandmother Maggie Gould; sisters: Linda Munstenteiger and Freda (and Ray) Oothoudt; brothers: David Smith and Leo Jordan Jr.; first wife Diane Smith; special niece Belinda Smith; and many more family and friends.
Arrangements entrusted to Whispering Pines Funeral & Cremation Service of Walker, Minnesota. Online condolences may be left at www.whisperingpinesnorth.com3-29