Donald G. Smoke, 89, passed away early Thursday morning, March 6, 2014, at his home in Kalamazoo, Mich.
He was born on March 16, 1924, in Newark, Ohio, the only child of the late Neil and Anna (Hoover) Smoke.
On Aug. 31, 1946, he was united in marriage to the former Norma E. Butt in Columbus.
Surviving are his wife of 67 years, Norma Smoke; their two children, Stephen (Margaret) Smoke and Sharon (Dennis) Kelly; threegrandchildren, Meghan (Michael) Mielcarek, Dr. Jarod (Candice) Kelly, and Erin (Sean) Carpenter; and two great-grandchildren, Brooklynn Carpenter and Tyler Mielcarek.
Don served in World War II from 1942-45, and spent most of his working life as an industrial engineer.
He was also a member of the Masons for 50 years.
He had a lifetime passion for learning, particularly anything to do with computers and numbers. Even in the last year of his life he regularly used the online learning site Khan Academy to study trigonometry and algebra.
Don was an avid reader and also had a keen interest in computers. He loved using his iPad and exploring Netflix, where watched classic TV shows that reminded him of times when people had to walk across the room to change the channel.
He spent 37 years in the picturesque lakeside community of Chaska Beach in Huron. There Don and Norma would often take after-dinner walks by Lake Erie. Many important family events, milestones and challenges were discussed sitting on a bench, the sights and sounds of the lake providing a comforting backdrop to an unfolding life.
The last chapter of Don’s life was a rich one. He moved to Kalamazoo in 2006 to be close to his daughter and son-in-law. During this period he saw all of his grandchildren graduate from college and get married, his grandson earn his doctorate degree from the University of Michigan, and his son and daughter-in-law relocate temporarily from Los Angeles to Chicago for two years (facilitating twice-per-month visits). In the past year his first great granddaughter and great grandson were born.
Throughout his life – and partly due to the fact that he was a reader and lifelong learner – he remained alert, engaged and optimistic. His unconditional love, as well as his ability to listen and understand, made Don an important adviser and counselor to all family members.
A few weeks before his death his son asked him to sum up his life in a single word. After a moment of careful consideration he replied, “Satisfied.”
People who knew him well and people who met him only briefly often recalled the same traits: “He was a kind and gentle man.”
His family remembers that “his belief in us…helped us believe in ourselves."
Funeral services for Don will be at 3 p.m. Monday, March 10, at Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Westside Chapel, 3926 S. 9th Street, Kalamazoo, with Pastor David Moffett-Moore officiating. Friends may visit with the family from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 9, at the funeral home.
Memorial contributions may be directed to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or the American Heart Association.
Please visit Don’s personalized webpage for directions, his online guestbook or to leave a condolence to his family at langelands.com.