Virgil Leon Smith, much loved husband, father, grandfather, friend, and neighbor, died peacefully at home Saturday, February 4, 2017, in Mena, Arkansas, at the age of 86 years. He was born on April 4, 1930, in Portales, New Mexico, to the late Richard Wayne Smith and Fairy Lavita Newbill Smith.
An adventure seeker from early in life, Virgil left his family farm at age 17 with only a few dollars to his name to join the United States Navy. He eventually found his way to Memphis where he met the love of his life, Verna Jean Dodd. Virgil continued his Navy career, living around the country learning and working on computer systems. In 1955 he was selected to be part of an IBM internship program and worked at the forefront of the computer industry. He retired from the Navy as Master Chief Petty Officer in Data Processing at age 37 and moved into the corporate world and eventually retired as a Vice President with Electronic Data Systems.
Virgil and Jean lived a full life together raising five children and living around the world including Washington DC, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Diego, Detroit, Milwaukee, Iran, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia.
After a successful career in the corporate world, Virgil retired to Mena, Arkansas, to live his dream of running a ranch, raising cattle, clearing land, and creating beautiful rock gardens. Virgil saw hard work as a virtue and honesty as a person’s backbone. Virgil’s kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and loyalty will be missed greatly. He was known to set the example of how to live a good life, and a good life he did lead.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Fred Smith and Ronald Smith.
Virgil is survived by his wife, Verna Jean Dodd Smith; his siblings, Jean Primrose, Dixie Smith, and Weldon Smith; his children, Valinda Ann Rustam of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Teresa Kay Milstead of Lakeland, Florida, David Paul Smith of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Robert Wayne Smith of Great Falls, Virginia, and Matthew Jason Smith of Austin, Texas; his grandchildren, Jenifer Michele Smith, Doreen Kay Rustam, Lennart N. Rustam, Shane Lee Smith, Justin Wayne and wife Melissa Smith, Adam Christopher Smith, Lilijana Smith, Mirella Smith, Alden James Smith, Addison Grace Smith, and Asher Jacob Smith; and great-grandson, Levi Carter Smith.
On Monday, February 6, 2017, the family will greet friends and guests from 12:30 P.M. until 2:00 P.M. at Bowser Family Funeral Home Chapel in Mena, with funeral services immediately following at 2:00 P.M. Burial will take place on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 10:00 A.M. at the Melrose Memorial Cemetery in Melrose, New Mexico.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Ouachita Regional Hospice, 1106 South Mena Street, Mena, Arkansas 71953.