Bruce Allen Smith, 63

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bruce Allen Smith, age 63 of Fallon, MT passed peacefully after a brief battle with a very rare, aggressive cancer on Sunday, March 31st, 2019 in Glendive, MT, with his wife Karen by his side.

Bruce was born on April 5th, 1955 in Willison, ND on a day that had thunder, lightning and snow! He was the third of four boys, born to Edward and Juliet (Ellevold) Smith. He was raised on the farm south of Dagmar, MT. The Smith place raised small grains, hay, hogs, cattle, sheep, chickens and the family always raised a large garden, all of which served him well later in life as an Extension Agent. He was raised in the Lutheran faith. He was a proud Medicine Lake Honker and his 6’11” frame served him in track (as a high jumper & shot putter) and in basketball, besides it being a great conversation starter. He was MVP of the state Class B basketball tournament in 1972 and was one of the Scholastic Coach’s Top 100 Basketball players in the US two years running.

Bruce met his future wife, Karen Skedsvold, at a dance in Culbertson. They were married in 1974. They both attended MSU-Bozeman. Bruce earned a full basketball scholarship and graduated with honors (a BS in Ag Production- Animal Science) in 1977. Bruce played basketball in Bourg-en-Bresse, France for 1978-79 season. He and the team’s travels took them through the southern half of France.

Upon returning to the US, Bruce also returned to MSU and graduated with honors with a BS in Ag Business in 1979. He returned to the family farm and built up his own sheep flock. Elizabeth was born in 1980. Drought and grasshoppers made those last years tough, so Bruce entered graduate school at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and earned his MBA in 1987. JoAnna was born in 1985 while in California. Bruce commuted every day to school. He worked construction and built fences to make ends meet. Upon graduating he went to work for Pillsbury/Green Giant processing vegetables in Watsonville, CA. The family went through the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989; it was time to move.

They moved to Illinois; and at the age of 35, Bruce became the youngest Plant Manager for Van den Bergh Foods, the producer of ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.’ In 1993 they moved to Idaho where Bruce was the Manufacturing Manager of the Universal Frozen Foods French fry plant. He went through the second corporate buy-out of his career and knew it was time to get back to Montana. The family spent the next couple of years in Twin Bridges while Bruce commuted back and forth to Whitehall as the Madison/Jefferson County Extension Agent.

When the Dawson County Extension position opened in 1996, Bruce applied, in part to be closer to both he and Karen’s families.

Turned out being an Extension Agent in a single-agent county was an almost perfect job for Bruce. He could go from agriculture to horticulture to community development to youth programs to family consumer sciences all in one day, if need be.

As an avid local foods advocate, Bruce helped start the Farm-to-Table Project, the Glendive Saturday Farmers’ Market, the Glendive Community Garden, the Glendive Food Development Center, the Farm-to Table Store and the Farm-to-Table Cooperative.

Bruce served on several local, state and regional boards (he traveled throughout Montana and the region). He was extremely interested in helping people and communities become more self-sustaining.

Bruce reached his goal of making 1,500 bird houses

for 4-H camp, all of them

made from scrap lumber

and old pallets he cut

himself. He so enjoyed

seeing the bird houses

he helped campers build

show up at the many

county fairs in the region

and on fence posts around the area. Bruce spent over 35 years involved in 4-H as a member, leader and County Agent.

Bruce was an extrovert. He enjoyed a chance to converse with the many people he met traveling and working throughout Montana, the US and France. He spent endless hours researching in genealogy; he loved metal detecting, reading and collecting books, and building things. From an early age he showed a penchant for collecting all things. Everything had a use to him, even if no one else could see it. Seldom, if ever, did he throw something away, he believed everything could be recycled.

He received several awards and honors that he was especially proud of and treasured.

He loved to visit, laugh, teach, share, learn/read, collect, go to his daughters’ games and now to his grandchildren’s games. He was ever so proud of his two daughters and his grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Karen; daughters Elizabeth Smith (Tanner) of Terry, MT; JoAnna Smith of Fort Benton, MT; his mother Juliet of Plentywood, MT; brothers, Gary (Marilyn), Doug, and Rod (Mary) all of Dagmar, MT; grandchildren Abe and Bella Smith of Terry, MT. As well as numerous nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, ‘Big Ed’ and a niece Johanna.

Cremation has taken place, private interment at a later date.

A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 at 11:30 am MST at Zion Lutheran Church in Glendive, MT with Pastor Avis Anderson officiating. A reception will follow services at the EPEC in Glendive. Silha Funeral Home of Glendive has been entrusted with the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to any of the following or to a charity of your choice:

Dawson County 4-H, 207 W. Bell St, Glendive, MT 59330-1616

Glendive Community Cancer Fund, PO Box 1144, Glendive, MT 59330

Montana Wool Growers Memorial Fund, PO Box 1693, Helena, MT 59624.

Remembrances and condolences may be shared with the family at: www.silhafuneralhomes.com.

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