Joe Erwin Smith



JOE ERWIN SMITH, died at his home, Monday, October 26, 2020 after weekend visits from many loved ones and family. He took every last opportunity he had to communicate his love and appreciation of them all, near and far. Joe lived an honest, compassionate, creative life, devoted to his family. The church bells were ringing Easter Sunday, March 24, 1940, when Joe was born to Marjorie Colleen (Price) and Clair Smith in Patterson, Ohio. He grew up in Patterson and Dunkirk, Ohio, often in the company of his grandfathers, Soupy and Ross. Joe graduated in 1958 from Hardin Northern High School, the president of his Senior class. He met Elaine Smith, and they wed in 1963. Together they raised a family of four children in Davison, MI.

A 1963 graduate of Ohio Northern University, Joe started his career teaching at Anthony Wayne Middle School, Whitehouse, OH, until he was awarded a NSF scholarship for graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma, from which he graduated with his Masters in Natural Sciences in 1966. After graduation, Joe was employed for a short time by Marathon Oil in Findlay, OH, until moving to Flint, MI in 1966 to accept a position teaching mathematics at Mott Community College. There he taught algebra, calculus, differential equations, trigonometry and computer science classes to many, many students, retiring in 2015. Joe was an avid woodworker, having built much of the family home and furnishings, furnishings for his children’s homes, and he ran a small woodworking business for several years. His children remember Joe as a wonderful father, good humored, generous, and loving, piling them all into the wagon for trips to the lake, to the ice cream shop, and to museums, shows, and lessons.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years, Elaine; his children, Lee Smith Bravender and her husband Terrill Bravender of Ann Arbor, MI, John Smith and his wife Tammy Smith of Charlotte, NC, and Amanda Smith-Sawyer and her husband Kevin Sawyer of Westfield, IN; his sisters, Nancy Baltz of Findlay, OH, and Jeanne Vermillion of Clearwater, FL, his sisters and brothers-in-law, Rita and Gary Bernhardt of Arlington, OH, and Beverly and Robert Hannewald of Virginia Beach, VA. He was preceded in death by his eldest daughter, Tracy Lane Smith, a heartbreak that remained with Joe his entire life. His grandchildren were a delight to him, he enjoyed watching football with them, taking them to the park, teaching them card games, eating ice cream with them, and he always had a song to share with them: Katelyn Flowers, Ian Bravender, Nate Bravender, Matthew Sawyer, Adam Smith, Joe Sawyer, and Joel Smith.

Cremation has taken place. A Private Memorial Service will be celebrated at Our Risen Lord Lutheran Church. Pastor Susan Lidums will officiate. In lieu of flowers, we invite you to consider memorial gifts to Our Risen Lord Lutheran Church, Burton, MI, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation/, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan/, or The Salvation Army.

Please share your thoughts with the family at