John E. Smith

John Ervin Smith passed away peacefully on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at the age of 91.

John was born at home on June 20, 1929, in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, to Mary Emma (Zelenak) Smith and John David Smith. He left high school early to enlist in the Army and serve during the Occupation of Japan.

John married SallyAnn (McElwain) in August of 1969. They had one daughter, Rebecca (Smith) Gugino. He is survived by his wife, daughter, two grandchildren, Leisher and LilyAnn, and a son-in-law, Leonard Gugino.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Mary and John.

For most of his working life, John was employed by PPG Industries.

After his retirement, he volunteered for the Newville Recycling Center and drove the Big Spring Senior Center van. Throughout his life, being a talented athlete he participated in many sports. At 40 he took up golf, and in 1989 won the gold medal for golf in the PA Senior Olympics, going on to represent Pennsylvania in the National Games. He also enjoyed playing his harmonica and reading.

He was a very simple man who found no joy in possessions or wealth. He loved animals and nature, and would often gaze at the mountains and say, “God never painted a more beautiful picture.”

But his greatest treasure was his wife, who throughout his final years, despite his dementia, would greet as “Sallybird, the love of my life. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

In his final years, John resided at Haven Place and brought joy to those around him. He had a quick wit and charm that he showered on the nurses who cared for him. His family was blessed to be able to spend time with him through his final days. Some of his last words were to his granddaughter, LilyAnn, in which he imparted the advice to not concern herself with what she thought others wanted her to be and, “be happy, just be happy.”

At John’s request, there will not be a service. The family asks that you honor his memory by finding some simplicity in life that brings you joy and just “be happy.”


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