Elvin Earl Smith
November 6, 1934 ~ November 23, 2022 (age 88)

Elvin Earl Smith, of Fort Myers, FL., passed away on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 with his family by his side. He was born on November 6, 1934 in Tyner, IN to the late Elvin and Lucille (Ritchie) Smith. Earl was preceded in death by his son, Steven Earl Smith in 1989 and his first wife, Damaris Drew’s Smith in 1993, sister, Virginia McCormick, brothers, Don, Bill, John, and Jim Smith. On December 22, 1984 in South Bend, he was united in marriage to Gertrude “Trudy” Smith and eventually they moved to Florida, where they spent the last 20 years together.

Born in a 4-room home at 3:30 am, before the doctor could arrive, in the middle of the Depression, grew up with his father serving in WWII. Growing up next to the tracks with 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Where food was cooked on a coal fired stove, outhouse / hand pump, potbelly stove for heat. He learned early that he had to compete in the family, on the basketball court and in the boxing ring. He excelled at basketball and was a rising star at Tyner Tech. His life took a detour once he became a father and a husband at 17. His father in-law gave him a choice Plumber or Sheet Metal worker. There may have been a third - it was not talked about?? At 17 he started supporting his family learning the Sheet Metal Trade, which served him well throughout his life. By 20 he had 2 sons and a daughter and a house in the farmlands of Granger. Nobody could understand why he moved to the Boonies. He coached little league baseball, was active in masons as was his daughter who was part of the rainbow girls. He rented a concession stand in the football stadium and the family served many hotdogs and coffees over the years. This was his way of instilling work ethics and the value of the dollar.

By 36 he took a chance at the American dream starting a business. So, with a contract and a few pieces of equipment in the home’s 2 car garage, Deluxe Sheet Metal was born. Needing help, he roused his 15-year-old son and said “let’s get to work.” He asked for 2 years from the family to prove he could make more on his own than working for another shop. Deluxe Sheet Metal was sold after 48 years in business and became a go to resource for the community. He took great pride in “his Guys” and the work they produced. He sat on the apprentice board to help build the trade. Many relatives earned a good living being a part of the team. His 15 yr. old son partnered with him in the 90’s allowing him to transition out which paved the way for his retirement.

Beyond his career he was always available to lend a helping hand and an open heart to listen and guide, family, friends, and anyone down and out. He believed in a hand up not a handout. The school of hard knocks as he put it, made him sympathetic to other people’s challenges. His simple honest no-nonsense approach to life helped many. But he did know how to have fun and always had a sense of humor. He enjoyed hosting family and friends up at their house on Baron Lake. Barbecuing up a storm and then taking a toddy on the pontoon boat to enjoy friends and family. Many a young skipper got their first captain’s experience on the lake. Down in their condo on Fort Myers Beach the boating continued, he had a 60’ slip with his 15’ jet boat which was perfect for exploring the back water and retrieving the fish, shrimp, or other catches of the day from the fishing boats on the north end of the island. There may have been some white knuckled adventure, but all ended well. He continued his construction career by unofficial inspecting the buildings being built on his bike. Came to know many shop keepers as he would make his daily rounds.

He always brought a smile and lightened up others day. Friends and family were always welcome and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. Riding out hurricane Ian, Cat 4, on the 10 th floor proved exciting. Once they were able to be evacuated his family came down to help. In St. Pete the inoperable cancer was discovered. With his wife, daughter, and son by his side his true strength shone through. As his body gave way to the cancer his person grew stronger, showing us, even at the end, what strength of charter was. Thank you, Dad, for being you. You made the world a better place.

Earl is survived by his wife, Gertrude “Trudy” Smith, daughter, Kristine Anne (William) Torok, son, Kevin Michael (Sue) Smith, stepchildren; Victoria (Bob) Gillespie, Don (Debbie) Ehrich, Bob Ehrich, Jim Ehrich, 8 grandchildren, Stephanie (Curt) Gottlob, Amy (Alex) Ritchie, Ryan Smith, Tenille Salas, Tara (Ethan) Wallace, Damaris Smith, Sarah (Wayne) Bresette, and Tracye (Eric) Luley along with 11 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters, Dorothy “Dusty” Lane of Covina, CA., and Mary Anne Smith of Katy, TX.

Funeral services for Earl will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 10, 2022 at Palmer Funeral Home – Welshiemer North Chapel, 17033 Cleveland Road, South Bend, IN. Friends may visit with the family on Friday, December 9, 2022 from 3:00 –8:00 p.m. and again on Saturday, one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Graveside service and burial will immediately follow at Riverview Cemetery in South Bend, Saturday from 12:30 – 4:30 The Union Station will be open to all that have been touched by his life. To Remember and Share the part of him that lives on in others.

Memorial contributions may be made in Earl’s honor to the American Cancer Society of North Central Indiana, 130 Red Coach Drive, Mishawaka, IN 46545 or to Camp Millhouse, 25600 Kelly Rd. South Bend, IN 46614

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