George Smith, age 85 of Milbank, SD died on January 3, 2020, at Avantara-Milbank.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Parkview United Methodist Church in Milbank. Rev. Melanie Reiners will officiate. Visitation will be held on Monday from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Mundwiler Funeral Home in Milbank. Visitation will continue at the church on Tuesday one hour prior to the service. Burial will be in the Milbank City Cemetery.
George Laverne Smith was born on October 25, 1934, in Berrien Springs, Michigan, to Lynn and Hazel (Urick) Smith. He attended school in Berrien Springs until his family moved to Jackson, Michigan, where he graduated from high school. George attended one year of college at Jackson Junior College before he was offered a scholarship at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota. He was a four-year letterman in football, basketball, and track and received his B.A. degree in 1957. He earned his Master of Education in 1963 from South Dakota State University.
George spent his life dedicated to education, teaching and coaching in Gary, SD, and Flandreau, SD. He became Superintendent of the Hudson, SD, school before moving to Milbank in 1967 where he served as Superintendent until his retirement in 1994. While serving this district, he was instrumental in the building of the current high school and the athletic complex of which he was very proud. He spent the next 17 years as the Development Director of Grant County, a position he enjoyed a great deal.
Mr. Smith earned many recognitions during his lifetime, including being inducted into the DWU Hall of Fame, South Dakota Outstanding Superintendent Award, Minn-Dakota District Kiwanis Distinguished Member Award, Distinguished Educator Award, DWU Outstanding Educator Award, S.D. Intercollegiate Athlete Hall of Fame, SD School Administrator Honorary Retiree Award, SD Superintendent’s Distinguished Service Award, School Bell Award from Associated School Boards of SD, and others. He served as a lobbyist for AARP, was a member of Kiwanis for many years and served on the Milbank City Council. Mr. Smith was a member of Parkview United Methodist Church and was Administrative Board Chairman for many years.
George was married to Jacqueline (Duimstra) Smith in 1956 in Colton, South Dakota. After their marriage, they lived in Michigan for one year before moving back to South Dakota. To this union, George and Jackie had five children. George loved South Dakota, the hunting and fishing it provided and the people of the State. Through his employment and sports that he enjoyed so very much, he came to call South Dakota his home and his chosen location to raise his family. Most of his acquaintances knew of the commitment he had to the Milbank School District and the Milbank community. The students and his children affectionately referred to him as ‘General George’ in reference to the ‘tight ship’ he ran, both at school and at home. Jackie was the light of George’s life for 63 years and he lovingly referred to her as “The Wife”! Their love story showed their children how to cherish life when you have a wonderful partner.
George is survived by his wife, Jackie; his children: Scott (Karen) Smith, Aurora, CO; Kim Kaiser, Parker, CO; Pam (Lee) Schmidt, Brookings, SD; Ginger (Ruben) Leon, Colfax, NC; and Mike (Audra) Smith, Soddy Daisy, TN; three sisters: Connie (Louie) Norman, Peg (Bruce) Earl, Bette (Peter) Dejanovich and two brothers: Bill Smith, Ken (Liz) Smith, as well as many nieces and nephews. George was extremely proud of his children and their many accomplishments. He loved to visit and spend time with his 14 grandchildren: Erik, Jacob (Shanell), Gabe Smith, Jack (Gina), Kelcie (Chris) Wichmann, Tommy, Maggie Kaiser, Kari (Brian) Estes, Dan (Ashley) Schmidt, Vern, Nomar, Robby Leon, Colton, Asher Smith. He was blessed with three great-grandchildren: Sofia and Donny Smith and Haven Jo Estes. Preceding him in death were his parents; his parents-in-law: Peter and Violet Duimstra; a brother and sister-in-law: Russ and Corenne Smith; one infant sister; and a son-in-law, Mike Kaiser.
The family would also like to thank Avantara Milbank for the care and attention they gave him.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Milbank High School Educational Foundation in the name of George L. Smith.