Obituary: Ernest T. (Skip) Smith
Ernest Thomas Smith III, known to all his friends as “Skip”, his daughter’s boyfriends as “Mr. Smith”, and his nieces and nephews as “Mr. Wonderful”, passed away peacefully on May 27, 2020 in Austin, Texas.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama his family moved to Marshalltown, Iowa before ultimately settling in Claremont, New Hampshire, where he graduated from Stevens High School (class of ’50) and earned money driving a Coca Cola delivery truck. He attended the University of New Hampshire ever so briefly. His early college semesters were really more about skiing than studying, which lead him to abruptly join the Navy. While in the Navy, he served as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, Pilot on the USS Bennington and Public Information Officer for Commander Fleet Air in Jacksonville, Florida (1953-1957). After an Honorable Discharge from the Navy he attended Middlebury College, where his purpose matched his potential. He graduated Cum Laude and made the Dean’s List (class of ’59). By this time he was also married to Sandy (Atkinson) Smith from Springfield, Vermont and they had their first child (Sheldon ’58). Next stop Law School. After he and Sandy had their second child (Sam ’61), he graduated from Boston College Law (class of ’62) with a Bachelor of Laws Degree, an American Jurisprudence Award and prizes for Equity and Taxation.
In 1962 he and his family moved to Concord, NH where he began his career as a trial attorney with Upton, Sanders and Upton. In 1970, the name of the firm was changed to Upton, Sanders and Smith. For the next 20 years Skip worked hard at the firm and balanced his professional life with being a devoted husband and the coolest dad. There were summer camping trips to Cape Cod, lots of time at his parents’ summer “camp” on Lake Sunapee, skiing EVERY weekend during the winter and spring ski trips to Tuckerman’s Ravine. In the mid 70’s building a ski house in Warren, Vermont, by Sugarbush Ski Area became the next project. Everyone knew how to ski in the Smith family (and we all learned how to pound nails). Sugarbush in the 70’s were very fun years. In the 80’s Skip’s love for sailing was added to the dynamic. Years of sailing off the coasts of Maine and Cape Cod were filled with tales of wild days at sea. Skip loved those storms. In the early 90’s sailing gave way to his desire for moving west and retiring in a ski town. Next stop Steamboat Springs, CO. Steamboat was home for the last 30 years. Nordic and alpine skiing continued along with travel, building a community of new friends and staying in touch with old New England friends…lots of cocktails on the deck were had.
All through his life he influenced the people he met. He was larger than life. He was so bright, so very funny, so logical, so grounded. He was brutally honest and always said what was on his mind, rarely sugar coating anything. His friends (and family) loved him but quickly learned if they were going to cross swords with Skip, they had better have their ducks in line. He could convince you the sun doesn’t rise in the East until the last week of his very full life.
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Surviving Skip is his daughter, Sheldon Smith (married to Randy Trover) of Salt Lake City, Utah and his son, Sam Smith (married to Lonnie Jackson) and grandsons Alex and Jason all of Austin, Texas.
Skip was preceded in death by his parents Ernest Thomas and Jane Lisbeth (Brownlee) Smith, his brother Bill Smith and his wife Sandra (Atkinson) Smith.
A celebration of Skip’s life will be planned for a later date.
For those wishing to make a donation in Skip’s memory, the family asks you to direct them to: US Ski & Snowboard Foundation: donations.usskiandsnowboard.org Alzheihemer’s Association: act.alz.org American Cancer Society: donate3.cancer.org Arthritis Foundation: arthritis.org
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