William “Bill” Smith went to be with His Lord on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020 while in Bishop, Calif., with his wife, Linda, by his side. Giant in stature, he leaves a great hole in our hearts needing to be filled. His desire would be that we fill it with Jesus.
Bill was born in Pasadena, Calif., to parents Earl and June Smith. He grew up in El Monte, Calif., where he attended Gidley School K-8th. In his younger years he was an avid reader of classics and western sagas. He graduated from Rosemead High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball.
After high school, he attended Pasadena City College where he continued playing basketball and baseball. A few favorite highlights of his college/university days were guarding Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, resulting in his little toe being broken, winning the state championship for baseball, and pitching at the NAIA nationals. He paid his own way through college by working various jobs, including being an orderly at a mental institution. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of La Verne, where his love of baseball continued, eventually, leading him to be drafted by the California Angels AAA Pioneer League. He toured across the country with the Angels.
When his baseball career ended, he worked a variety of trades ranging from hotel managers, to being a packer/wrangler at Red’s Meadow pack station, as well as a counselor for Inyo Mono Probation Camp. He worked hard and his character was shaped by a diversity of experiences, which he loved to share in stories to all his kids, grandkids and students.
It was in Mammoth, Calif., that he met his wife of 45 years, Linda, found his Lord, and started a career in teaching which would be a passion for 37 years. He taught and coached at Bishop Union High School and Round Valley Elementary, but then heard the Lord calling him to Christian education at Crowley Christian School. It was this calling that led him and his family to Tehachapi working as an administrator and teacher at Tehachapi Christian School and helping found Kindle Christian School. He then moved back into public education teaching at Jacobsen Jr. High and Tehachapi High School for 24 years from 1988-2012. His love for history, literature and his students permeated those years.
The greatest priority in his life was raising his six children in the way they should go. Nothing, except the Lord, took precedence over their well-being. He coached for the TVRPD and Little League. Miraculously, he attended nearly all of his kids’ games. You could see him on the bench or in the stands enthusiastically cheering them on and at times yelling. In later years, he watched his grandchildren play and passed on his love for the game.
After retiring, he enjoyed camping in the Sierras, music, writing his memoirs, Tuesday doughnuts with the boys, his Life Group, avidly keeping up with politics, trips to Idaho to visit his son, and driving his grandkids to school every morning. It was also a great joy of his to see past students or players as grown-ups with families.
Bill’s deep love and greatest passion was for his Lord and Savior. He wrote poetry, was on worship teams, but composing his own songs for Jesus brought him the most satisfaction. Opening his home for Bible studies off and on for 31 years, singing in Sunday school, and singing to his wife, children, and grandchildren on his front lawn enriched his life and all who witnessed.
Bill was very knowledgeable, possessing a high IQ, yet humble; he was a simple, reflective man, a mentor too many. He loved telling stories, had a dynamic quick wit, and did his very best to make people laugh. He was generous to others, sincerely cared for others, and always strove to live a Christ-like life. He possessed a quiet wisdom that he passed on to his family and many others. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by his family and all those who knew him and called him friend. He is now Home.
Bill is survived by his wife, Linda, of 45 years; daughters, Maura Smith of Tehachapi, Elizabeth Wolf of Tehachapi, Rachel Smith of Tehachapi; sons, Jeremy Smith of Tehachapi, Matthew Smith of Tehachapi, and Willie Smith of Caldwell, Idaho; daughters-in-love, Rae, Ashleigh and Jessica; son-in-law, Arno Wolf; and his nine grandchildren, Liam, Tristan, Brenden, Addison, Hadley, Ellie, Arno, Eli and Olive.
He is also survived by his brother, Larry Smith of Glendora, and sisters, Susie Simmons of Temple City, Peggy Moulton of Menifee, Jill Grove of Riverside, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Bill will be privately laid to rest at Tehachapi Public Cemetery-Eastside. A public Celebration of Life will be announced in the near future. Condolences to the family can be sent via Wood Family Funeral Service’s online obituary page at www.woodmortuary.net. Please share your fond memories of him.