lynn alton smitherman

IN MEMORY of Pop, Grandfather, and Great Grandfather, and Special Friend to many….. SMITHERMAN, Lynn Alton November 14, 1913 to April 29, 2017 "We remembered you on what would have been your 104th Birthday, November 14, and on this Thanksgiving Day 2017 we were especially thankful for all that you taught us and all the love you gave us those many years." Lynn Alton Smitherman crossed over in his sleep early the morning of April 29, 2017 in the quiet of his own home, with daughter Linda and son-in-law Robert Conant. He lived a century and three years-a long life full of love, family and incredible changes in the world. Raised in Texas hill country of Athens, Lynn's moral compass and sense of life's necessities were shaped by his "Mama and Daddy", two brothers, a sister and childhood adventures with friends in the woods along the Corsicana Highway. After high school in 1930 he discovered more of life's lessons while" riding the rail" and working odd jobs during the Great Depression. Returning home after a couple of years he joined Magnolia Petroleum Co. surveying in west Texas and Oklahoma. By 1935 his boss encouraged him to attend college and Lynn found the life of an engineer--or perhaps it found him. He went to Texas Technological College with his childhood and lifelong friend Aubrey "Ab" Morgan, graduating with a degree in Petroleum Engineering in 1939. Lynn went to work surveying for Petty Geophysical Engineering Co. Using cutting-edge, ground penetrating seismic and gravity detection technologies of the day, he and his crew spent long days in the field across much of the western United States searching for oil and gas reserves. This career lasted only two years when he decided he should get his military commitment out of the way. Lynn enlisted in the Army Signal Corps and as his luck would have it he was just in time for War II. As a commissioned officer Captain Smitherman served in the European Theatre after taking courses in radar and microwave at MIT and Harvard. Many are the stories he shared of his days at Wright Patterson Field, London, England, and Saint Germain, France. His unit developed submarine detection technologies placed in B-18 bombers. He also installed and calibrated the equipment in the field. After D-day, he was detailed to a small group that was tasked to review and catalogue German Air Force communication technology in captured Nazi field offices and laboratories. After he was discharged he went back to work at Petty until 1952 when he began a 30-plus year career in research and development with the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers. During this time, he helped advance the uses of radar, microwave communications, crevasse-detection and other innovations. His slide rule and Texas Instruments calculator were always just an arm's length away. He started in Virginia at Fort Belvoir, spent three tours in Greenland, and moved to Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 1960 where he finally retired in1973. Lynn's family life was not always easy, but he was a loyal and dedicated husband and father. He married his first wife Noelle Elizabeth "Betty" Salt in 1946 and lost her due to pregnancy complications in 1947. One year later he married Helen Adele "Dell" Sneed, the widow of his college friend and roommate William R. Selby. Bill's B-29 was lost over the Pacific during World War II leaving Dell and a baby daughter. Lynn and Dell raised their daughter Linda in Texas, Virginia, and finally Tucson, Arizona where they went on to love and spoil her three children. After Dell's passing in 1979, Lynn began putting his life in order a second time. Contacting old friends in Texas he learned that his high school sweetheart, Onita Cole, had lost her husband. A "40-year gap" plus a year of letter writing and phone calls saw Onita and Lynn finally married in 1980. They made-up for lost time by traveling the west, visiting old friends and relatives while enjoying 20 years of married bliss before Onita passed in 2001. Before retiring in early 1970's Lynn began building his summer cabin in up in the White Mountains of Arizona. The town of Alpine near Escudilla Mountain in ponderosa and aspen forests is where he felt most at home. Lynn enjoyed all that this haven offered: trout fishing, berry picking, deer and grouse hunting, winter sledding with his grandchildren and many adventures with special friends in his Tal-Wi-Wi neighborhood. "Smitty", as friends called him, had 100 years of stories he loved to share with anyone who could also reminisce. The other community of friends was in The Highlands at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona. For the last 15 years he took daily walks with a cap on his head and his golf club converted cane in hand or hanging from his belt. He would stop to visit with anyone he met, especially if they were walking a dog. Almost every day, weather permitting, "Smitty" would sit inside his open garage, feeding quail on the driveway or offering a chair to any visitor, especially if they brought their canine along. At the time of his death, his well-thumbed copy of Stephen Hawkins' A Brief History in Time was near his bedside and his last crossword puzzle lay completed on his clip board next to his favorite recliner. Outside in his small raised vegetable garden, bees danced among this year's crop of turnip greens and garlic as quail drank from a bird bath on the corner. All unaware. In addition to his daughter, Linda and son-in-law, Bob Conant, Lynn is survived by his grandchildren, Jennifer Brown, Patrick Brown, David Lewis and wife, Denise; great-grandchildren, Brittney Scott, Cody Zenako and Alexandra Lazer. While those around him welcomed and even anticipated the 104th year of his life, they feel his relief that he can finally rest.