Richard Wilbor Smith died peacefully in his sleep at his home on Blueberry Meadow Farm in Chilmark on May 22. He was born Oct. 18, 1928 in New Britain, Conn., the only child of Katharine Stanley Wilbor and Earnest Maxwell Smith.
After his mother’s death when he was 15, Dick and his father moved to the family farm in Old Chatham, N.Y. Once there, and although a dramatic change, Dick thrived and grew to love his new rural life: baling hay, raising guinea hens, hunting and enjoying dances at the homes of friends.
His high school years were spent at the Berkshire School where he was active in the glee club, playing baseball, hockey and learning to fly, one of his many passions. After high school, he entered Cornell University and graduated in 1951.
Dick cherished his time at Cornell and always delighted in sharing college memories with his family, his fellow class/team mates, DKE brothers and lifelong friends, Dick Ramin, Rip Haley, Bill Scazzero and Jeff Fleischmann.
During the Korean War, Dick and his friends joined the armed forces where Dick, who was active in ROTC during his college years, served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s 45th Infantry Division.
After his military service, he enjoyed a 36-year career with Fafnir Bearing Company in New Britain where he rose to serve as division sales manager of farm machinery. He thoroughly enjoyed his time at Fafnir and treasured the opportunity to travel to many other countries on behalf of his company, which he often said “was enlightening and served me well over the years.”
Since the early 1950s, Dick spent many summers and free weekends on the Vineyard. It was during this time that he met two other lifelong friends who were Vineyard locals, David Flanders and Herbert Hancock. And good friends they were, spending many a day and evening together playing baseball and horseshoes, traveling, collecting duck decoys, running lobster pots and “tradin’ tall tales.”
It was almost 30 years ago that Dick retired and moved permanently to the Vineyard where he served the town of Chilmark in several capacities throughout the years. He was a member of the planning board, conservation commission and a Chilmark land bank representative because, he said, “We were intended to lead a shared life.”
This sentiment was clearly visible through his shared love for his family and friends, his endowments to Cornell, and for his canine partners in life like his most recent four-legged friends, Mango and Chamois.
In a July 2011 letter from Dick to his family, titled An Ordinary Man, he wrote:
After many consultations with myself, I consider myself to be an ordinary man — nothing more. I have lived pretty much of an ordinary life comprised of many learning experiences, many ordinary faults and weaknesses; and with some ordinary success.
However, I also know that I have been blest with an extraordinary amount of luck and good fortune. I have had good health, lived in beautiful places, enjoyed working to make things better and had good friends. But most important are my wonderful children and their families; for when it is all said and done, that is all that really matters.
So I conclude that through the trials of this life, an ordinary man can do well in life by working diligently, caring about others, keeping your head on straight and appreciating all the wonderful things that come your way; and being thankful for all of it.
I will never forget those I loved so much and the memory of their love and their success will sustain me wherever I may go.
Dick is survived by his daughters, Tracey S. Smith of West Tisbury and Courtney S. Griffith of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., whose mother is Cynthia S. Stibolt of Santa Fe, N.M.; his granddaughters Isabel L. Smith and Olivia C. Smith; his devoted companion, Andrea (Candy) McGee; and his sons in law Robert C. (Spike) Smith and Mark S. Griffith.
On Sunday, June 30 at 2 p.m., a celebration of Dick’s life will be held at his home at 32 Frog Alley in Chilmark, just off Tea Lane.
In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to Men’s Hockey at Cornell University. (Go to cornellbigred.com, select Support Athletics, then select Other. Type in “Men’s Hockey” — enter your donation and add “In Memory Of.”) Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs.