Cover photo for Donald Eugene Smith's Obituary
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1925 Donald 2017

Donald Eugene Smith

April 3, 1925 — March 31, 2017


VERONA - DR. DONALD E. SMITH passed away March 31, 2017, just 2 days short of his 92nd birthday. He was born April 3, 1925, in Hinsdale, Illinois, the son of Jacob C. and Helen (Iwema) Smith. Dr. Smith practiced veterinary medicine in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, Buffalo County, Wisconsin, and surrounding areas.

Retiring from veterinary practice in 1986, Don and his wife Sue traveled extensively and devoted time to service in the Sierra Club. Don flourished as an artist, painting in oils and studying print-making at UW-Eau Claire. The Phillips Library in Eau Claire mounted shows of his art works in 1993 and in 2014.

Having grown up in the Depression, Don grew up with few possessions but experienced a boyhood rich in the treasure of good parents, a sister and two brothers, extended family, and a gang of buddies with whom to freely run the streets and roam the fields and forests surrounding his home in La Grange, Illinois.

During WW2, Don served 30 months in the Air Force Training Command as a mechanic and crew member on B- 17's. Discharged in 1946, he worked and used the GI Bill to finance study of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State College at Ames. He graduated in 1953 and was honored with membership in the Cardinal Key Honorary Society. Don was active in student affairs and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, serving for a year as president of the Iowa State chapter. While at Iowa State, he met Susan M. Finn, who soon became his wife.

After graduation from college, Don was awarded an internship at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, MA. Susan found employment in Boston, also, and the two were married in the First Congregational Church of Brookline.

Returning to Illinois in 1954, Don and Sue established the Pioneer Veterinary Clinic in the old lead mining town of Elizabeth, nestled in the hills of Jo Daviess County. The young couple lived and worked with the honest, decent, good humored descendants of British and Irish miners and capable German farmers who had settled in that region. The practice thrived, growing to include offices in nearby Galena and in Hazel Green, WI. The couple acquired the historic Tapley Farm west of Elizabeth, raising the family in its handsome Victorian house. The whole family contributed in turn to raising Holstein heifers for sale to dairymen, as a sideline business.

In 1974, Dr. Smith sold out to his partners in the Illinois practice and relocated to Mondovi, WI, where he joined the Buffalo Valley Veterinary Service, which grew to a staff of six practitioners. Don retired from veterinary practice in 1986, feeling fortunate to have served small family farmers before the small farms were displaced by corporate operations.

In retirement, Don resumed an interest in art that was founded in training he received as a youth. He took up brushes and palette again, and studied print-making at UW-Eau Claire. The Phillips Library in Eau Claire mounted shows of his art works in 1993 and in 2014.

The Smith home benefited from Don's aesthetic sense: he lifted tons of stone and moved yards of soil to landscape the several homes the family lived in over the years. Don enjoyed using a shovel also for gardening, producing good annual yields of vegetables and fruit. He and Sue also were enthusiastic canoeists, leading family and friends on many adventures in the Boundary /Quetico Wilderness, as well as on the Chippewa River and other local streams. They were bicyclers who spent many hours riding on Wisconsin country roads with friends, and enjoyed several cycling adventures in Europe.

Dr. Smith joined the Chippewa Valley Group of the Sierra Club in 1987. He aided conservation efforts to maintain and strengthen post-WW2 environmental legislation and to combat the transfer of Federal lands to Western states. He served two terms as Chair of the Chippewa Valley chapter and remained active in Sierra Club until his death. He supported other environmental groups and sportsman's organizations, as well as organizations promoting citizen action for good government.

Dr. Smith was a Lions Club member for three decades and served two terms as president of the Elizabeth Club. He also served as president of the Jo Daviess County Fair Board. He helped organize the Northwest Illinois Veterinary Association and was a Life Member of the American Veterinary Medical Association. A member of the First Congregational UCC church of Eau Claire for 25 years, Don actively participated in the life of the church. He was also a member of Memorial UCC church in Fitchburg, WI for the past 4 years.

Dr. Don Smith is survived by his wife and three children, Dr. Barney (LuAnn Roberts) Smith of Verona, Charlotte ( Scott ) Hayes in Atlanta, and Dr. Christine ( Michael ) Siddoway in Colorado Springs, and four grandchildren -- Maggy and Ian Smith, and John Paul and Katie Hayes. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Leslie Helene Powell, and brothers John Robert and Lewis Roger.

A memorial service will be held at the Memorial UCC church, 5705 Lacy Rd, Fitchburg, WI, on May 13 at 11 a.m.

Those wishing to celebrate Don with a memorial gift may direct contributions to the Sierra Club, 754 Williamson St., Madison, WI 53703 (sierraclub.org/giving/commemorative-gifts) or Memorial UCC, 5705 Lacy Rd, Fitchburg WI 53711.
To order memorial trees in memory of Donald Eugene Smith, please visit our tree store.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

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