Cecil J. Smith, Jr., November 14-1938-December 24, 2020, died from complications of Parkinson’s disease and COVID-19 while in the loving care of the Louisville VA Medical Center hospice team.
The youngest son of Dr. Cecil J. and Helen FitzSimmons Smith, he spent his early years in Pasadena, California and at San Juan Capistrano beach. Later the family moved to the St. Louis area, where Cecil began working the newspaper business.
Drafted into the U.S. Army, he was trained as a photographer and served at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he met and married Martha Spanyer in 1963.
In 1965, Cecil took the job of editor of the Salem Leader and Salem Democrat newspapers, a career he enjoyed until his retirement in 2000.
Cecil collected model trains and railroad equipment in a private museum for many years, and donated much of his collection to start The Depot Museum at the John Hay Center in Salem. From the opening in 2001, he led a mostly volunteer team to expand and improve the museum, and enjoyed serving as volunteer stationmaster for 18 years. Cecil was an active member of St Patrick Church. He has served as a Eucharistic Lay Minister, a Reader, a Parish Council Member and most recently a Greeter.
Cecil also served on the Salem tree board, parks and recreation board, the economic development commission and the urban enterprise association board. He was a past president of the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association, past president of the Salem Rotary Club, a Kentucky Colonel, and a member of the American Legion. In 2010, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and Volunteer of the Year by the Washington County Historical Society.
Cecil was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Fr. Alberic Smith, OFM, and a granddaughter: Betsie Bussert. He is survived by his wife, Martha, and four children, Jennifer (Mark) Olesh, Sharon (Jess) Bussert, John (Jane) Smith, and Paul (Barbara) Smith. Also 16 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren, and his other brother, Arthur Smith (Norma). Cecil was able to live at home throughout his long struggle with Parkinson’s disease because of the care provided by many helpers, nurse, family and friends. Deserving special mention is Jack Hudkins, RN, who provided professional, compassionate and reliable care for the past year.
Fr. Henry Tully celebrated a private Mass of Christian burial at St. Patrick Church, on December 29, 2020. A public celebration of life will be held some time in summer, 2021.
The family requests no flowers please since there is no visitation. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Washington County Community Foundation or charity of donor’s choice.
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