Douglas C. Smith, 85, passed away on Jan. 16, 2024, at Prestige Memory Care in Kalispell. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend and mentor to many.
He was born on Feb. 4, 1938, in Tacoma, Washington, to William A. Smith and Hope (Kohler) Smith.
He grew up in Tacoma, with his grandparents during World War II as his parents were helping support our troops. Doug’s father was in the merchant marines and his mother was a Rosie the Riveter.
Doug enjoyed doing the farm chores as a kid and loved all of the animals on the farm. At the age of 6, his family moved to Columbia Falls. Doug enjoyed hunting and fishing around the Columbia Falls area. He bagged a bear on Columbia Mountain when he was 12 years old. He was very proud of the hunt and made sure everyone knew of the experience.
He enjoyed participating in sports during high school. Always eager to compete on the Wildcat football team, Doug went out for football as a freshman. When the gear was handed out to the players, it must have been a sight for all to see. The pants hung down to his ankles, and the helmet spun around on his head. The coach suggested that Doug should help the team as a water boy.
Doug was an accomplished distance runner in high school, as well as running for Harry Adams at the University of Montana.
He met his wife Billie Fairchild from Kalispell. They shared 59 years until her passing on Feb. 28, 2015.
On July 16, 2017, Doug married Darlene Weed Dobrocke, and they shared very happy times before his illnesses developed.
Doug had a very colorful career in his life. He moved his family to Denver, Colorado, where in 1956 he enrolled at the FAA school for A&P mechanics. He worked for United Airlines from 1956-1965 while studying pre med at the University of Colorado. In 1965 he and his family moved to Portland, Oregon, where Doug attended the University of Oregon Health Science UOHS.
In 1969, he graduated with a Doctor of Medical Dentistry, DMD, and went on to do his internship at Denver General Hospital in 1970. After completion he moved his family to Bigfork. Dr. Smith had his private dental practice from 1970-1981.
Always wanting to learn more, Doug wanted to further his education in the Field of Anesthesia. So from 1981-1983, he attended the Medical Anesthesia residency at Boston City Hospital. Doug then returned to Bigfork where he set up part time dental practice and anesthesia.
Dr. Smith saw a need for emergency response in the Bigfork area. In 1975 Doug and the Bigfork Fire Department started the Bigfork Quick Response Unit. Doug taught the first Paramedic class in the Flathead Valley. After 46 years of practice Doug retired in 2016.
He is preceded in death by his parents, William and Hope Smith; brother, Wallace Smith (wife, Billie Smith).
He is survived by his wife, Darlene (Weed); his daughter, Debra Sward; his two sons, Craig (Tracy), Vernon (Patti); and stepson, Jeff Eickert.
He is also survived by many grandchildren, Merisa (Pat Murray) Brandon Benkelman, Brent (Valarie) Benkelman; Cara Smith, Cas Smith, Colin Smith, Ryan (Becca) Smith, Cory Smith, Trisha (Walker) Quiram, Laurell (Matt) Hartle and Brook (Ashley) Sward.
He has numerous great-grandchildren, Tanyon, Torren Murray, Dacia, Blake Benkelman, Kaven, Kamden Benkelman, Shayla Smith and Sierra Day; Emberly Smith, Kylin and Wade Smith; Olivia and Sawyer Quiram, Oliver and Annie Hartle, Abbie McClatchey.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Bigfork Fire and Ambulance, 810 Grand Dr., Bigfork, Montana.
Friends are encouraged to visit the Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory website at www.buffalohillfh.com to leave notes of condolences for the family.
Doug's celebration of life will be held on his birth date, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. in the Bigfork High School gym. Doug would have been 86 on this day. Please join us.
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