MADISON- Richard R. (Dick) Smith left this world peacefully on June 2, 2018. He was born August 7, 1936 in Mendota, IL to Archie and Helen (Wells) Smith. Dick spent his formative years helping on the family farm. He attended Mendota High School where he participated in football and baseball and was the class president. He graduated in 1954 and entered the Army where he served in Germany for two years.
Upon his return from the Army, He married Shirley McConville on November 14, 1959. Together, they moved to Champaign, IL. There, Dick attended the University of Illinois where he earned a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Agronomy. From there, they moved their young family to Ames, IA where Dick earned his Ph.D. in Agronomy.
In 1966, Dick accepted a position as a research geneticist with USDA with a staff appointment in the Agronomy department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His primary research was with red clover, but included other forage crops as well. He was an early adopter of cutting edge technology to propagate forage plants to help advance the dairy industry. During his tenure, Dick traveled extensively throughout the world gathering plant material, speaking and teaching. He mentored many graduate students around the world and considered them friends as well as students.
Dick loved athletics. He was active in youth sports, particularly the Westmorland Youth Hockey Association where he served as president for several years. Later, Dick served as president and ice scheduler for Dane County Youth Hockey. A die-hard Badger fan, Dick was a season ticket-holder for football and hockey for more than 40 years. He was also a life-long Chicago Cubs and Bears fan.
Away from work, Dick loved being with family and friends and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Camping trips and annual trips to Waupaca were dear to his heart - and no one started packing the car without him! Dick was also a story-teller. He loved a good story and a good joke. He was blessed with special "camping" friends who shared the stories, (and the jokes) and continue to be held dear.
In his retirement years, Dick's greatest joy was helping his children with various building and remodeling projects. He received tremendous pleasure attending countless athletic events and theatrical performances and was his grandchildren's biggest fan.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents, Archie and Helen Smith; brother, Archie; and sister, Suzanne. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Shirley; daughters Kathy (Jeff) Epping; Diane (Steve) Palmiter; Barbie (Eric) Simons; and son Rich (Kathy Cantwell) Smith; grandchildren Katie Palmiter (Donnie) James, Colleen Palmiter, Griffin, Kara, and Keegan Epping, Easton and Quinn Smith. He is further survived by sisters Ginny (Howard) Schmidt, Martha Smith and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank the caregivers at Covenant Oaks at Oakwood Village, Agrace Hospice and St. Mary's Hospital for their compassion, caring and kindness.
A celebration of Dick's life is scheduled for Monday, June 11, 2018 from 4-7 P.M. at Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison. A mass of Christian burial will be Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 11 A.M. at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, 401 S Owen Drive, Madison. Friends may also visit one hour prior to the mass. In lieu of flowers, consider making a donation to the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Agrace Hospice, Olbrich Botanical Gardens or a charity of your choice. On Wisconsin!
Cress Funeral and Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Rd, Madison
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I was so sorry to hear about Mr. Smith’s passing. He was a good man and I have lots of great memories of him on and off of the sports fields. Please know my family and I are thinking of you all. God Bless, Matt Murphy
I was so sorry to read of Dick's passing. I enjoyed working with him at the Dairy Forage Research Center. Dick had a great sense of humor and was kind and thoughtful to all. Lynn Celley
I also wanted to add that Dick was a member of our wedding as a groomsman. The class of 1954 will miss him forever. I hope I haven't written too much, but I wanted to share with the family my memories of our friendship. Rest in Peace, dear Dick.
I stopped by accident and couldn't finish my message to the Smith family. Dick was senior class president and I was secretary-treasurer. We had a wonderful senior year and produced a great yearbook. Glen and Dick also played high school football together and were both "farm boys" ! They had a lot in common.
I'm sending my deepest sympathy to the whole Smith family. My husband Glen and I were good friends of Dick's all through high school and beyond. Glen, Dick, and Dick Morrow went on a cross country trip in Glen's car the summer after high school graduation. They drove to California, stopping at every state sign across the country to mark their progress. They visited Dick's aunt and uncle and took a ferry to Catalina Island. They sometimes slept beside the road in sleeping bags (it was completely safe in 1954). We drove Dick's car on our honeymoon. I don't remember why--maybe it was more reliable than ours. We always enjoyed our visits at class reunions. We visited your family once in Madison and Dick and Shirley came to see us once when they were in Mendota. Glen and Dick were in the service at the same time and were able to meet up once during that time--I have a picture of them together--maybe in Germany, not sure. It is so very sad to lose another dear member of the MHS class of 1954, the best one ever !! We had 100 class members--50 boys and 50 girls. Eighteen of us married each other so you can see what a close group we were and are !! If my numbers are correct, we have only lost 39 or our 100, leaving 61 still living at age 82 !!
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