November 12, 1927 to April 20, 2022
Don Smith passed away peacefully at home in Tigard, Oregon, Wednesday, April 20, 2022, following a month of hospice care surrounded by his family.
Born in Portland, he was raised by his mom Margaret Scherner Smith on a farm in Garden Home in a house without electricity, studying by kerosene lamps. He graduated from the eighth grade in 1941 from Garden Home School’s class of five students then attended Tigard High School and Lewis & Clark College. He served in the Army during the occupation of Japan after World War II, playing the clarinet in the band.
Don lived a long and interesting life working hard doing what he loved, golf. He used to ride his bike with his pals to caddy at Portland Golf Club and worked there cleaning clubs, eventually becoming the Assistant Pro. He went on to become the long-time pro at Forest Hills Golf Club. He joined the local section of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA), serving as an officer in the Oregon branch, as President of the Pacific Northwest Section and served as a PGA National Vice President. Don also taught golf at Eastmoreland before he was recruited to become the PGA Tournament Director for the national PGA of America in Florida where he served for 21 years. He supported 20 PGA Championships, and in his role on the PGA’s National Rules Committee, officiated at two US Opens, 18 Masters championships, and 15 Ryder Cup Matches on both sides of the Atlantic. At his retirement, the PGA said Don developed a nationwide reputation for running tournaments and teaching the Rules of Golf. After returning to Oregon, he would still be called to officiate at golf tournaments and qualifying reviews for new golf pros. He was elected to the PNW PGA Hall of Fame in 1995.
In retirement, he also found more time for his other passion, fishing. He was known to pack a fishing rod to check out the water hazards on golf courses throughout his career, and especially enjoyed bass fishing and was quite proud of his first steelhead in Alaska on his travels with his good friend, Greg Snyder. He and his great-grandson Eman would go trout fishing at Hagg Lake with his son-in-law David supplying the coffee, cinnamon rolls and a customized chair with pole holder and umbrella. He enjoyed feeding the neighborhood squirrels, birds and had exceptionally large goldfish in his backyard pond. He liked to go to the coast to see “if the ocean was still there” and loved to devour fresh crab and steamers. He enjoyed all sports, attending the inaugural season of the Portland Trail Blazers and remaining an avid fan as well as for the Seahawks. He loved eating hot dogs watching the Mariners play baseball and was excited to watch the new Kraken hockey team. And of course, golf. He liked to watch the Seniors and the “ladies” LPGA events, as much as the PGA tour tournaments. He could tell us what was par and the approach to the cup for all the holes at Augusta while we watched the Masters in his final days. He wanted to live forever but told us that getting old was no fun. He leaves behind a legacy of outstanding service to the game of golf, a multitude of friendships, and a deep love of family and any animal that came into the Smith family.
Don is survived by his daughters, Julie Smith, Sue Lyster, and Jeanene Smith; and son-in-law, David Brandt and their family; his former wife, Anna; and stepdaughters, Debbie and Pam. He was preceded in death by his mother; his former wife of over 20 years, Alice Jean Smith whom he cared for in her later years; and his beloved son-in-law, Phil Lyster. The family is extremely grateful for the friendship and support of Pam Evans who provided superb home health care so we could fulfill his wish to age in place, and who could bring a smile to his face especially when they “danced” holding her hand from his hospice bed.
A Celebration of Life will be held from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., June 25, 2022, at Forest Hills Golf Club, for friends and family. Memorial donations may be made to either the PGA REACH, the PGA’s charitable arm that supports access to golf for youth, military, and diverse populations (www.pgareach.org) or the Audubon Society of Portland (audubonportland.org)
Please sign the online guest book at www.oregonlive.com/obits
Pingback: Don Smith | Garden Home History Project