Donald Newton Smith, Jr., of Tuckasegee, North Carolina, passed away September 26, 2018, in Keever Solace Center in Asheville, North Carolina, of complications from a stroke. He was 78. Everyone knew him as Newt.
Newt was a loving, kind, and generous man who was passionate about everything he touched. He loved writing, teaching, hiking, camping, gardening, and traveling. He treasured meditation, laughter, dancing, and sitting in the sun and readily shared his infectious delight in life. He championed the well being of the less fortunate and the rights of those whose civil liberties are threatened. Every word he spoke or wrote and every deed he did came from his whole heart. He spent his most precious moments with his beloved wife June and his children and grandchildren. His entire community cherished him.
Newt was born October 31, 1939, in Duncan, South Carolina, and grew up in Greer, South Carolina. He attended Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an undergraduate and received the Doctor of Philosophy in English Literature degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a Tar Heel through and through, especially during basketball season. He lived on his farm, Argura, in the Canada community of Jackson County since 1968.
Newt was a member of the faculty at Western Carolina University for a total of 25 years, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2009. In the Department of English he taught creative writing, modern poetry, technical writing, and Appalachian literature. He was Chair Emeritus of the WCU Faculty Senate. He became Associate Chief Information Officer in 2006 and supervised the redesign of the university web site. In the 1980s he founded and operated Communications Design, a full-service advertising agency. He was also chief engineer and partner with June in their tree seedling nursery, Argura Nurseries. He was a veteran of the United States Army, serving as a Russian linguist in Frankfurt, Germany, during the Vietnam era.
Newt wrote and published poetry for many years. In 2014 he and June walked the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port, France, to Santiago in western Spain, a distance of 500 miles. He kept a journal in the form of poems and published his book, Reflections on the Way, in 2015. He was a member of St. David’s Episcopal Church, Cullowhee, for fifty years. Little happened at St. David’s that he was not a part of. He served as senior warden of the vestry and as a delegate to the diocesan convention multiple times. He was intimately involved in the fund raising for and the building of a new parish hall in 2013. He was chair of the board of directors of Cullowhee Arts, a long-standing member and treasurer of the North Carolina Writers Network—Net West, and a member of the Jackson County Arts Council. He was the Democratic Party Precinct Chair of the Canada Precinct.
Newt is survived by his adored wife of 56 years, June Todd Smith; his daughter Courtney Smith and husband Mark Tomczak and their daughters Zoe and Emma; his son Zachary Smith and wife Cheryl Roorda and their children Eureka and Zephyr; his sisters Daphne Reider, Marsha Crites, and Denise Cline, and his brother Mark Smith; his nieces Tatyana Kelly (Jim), Penelope Reider, Savannah Crites (Lolly Dunlap), Emily Demarest (Chris), Lillian Graning (Charlie), and Amelia Cline, and his nephew Seth Cline; sister-in-law Paulette Jennis and niece Katie Pinner (Paul); and his heart brothers Curtis Wood, John Richie, Terry Kinnear, Sandy Miller, and John Habel.
The family will receive visitors at the home, 6875 Canada Rd., Tuckasegee, NC, Friday, October 19 from 4 to 7 p.m. A memorial service will be held Saturday, October 20, at 2 p.m. at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 385 Forest Hills Rd., Cullowhee, NC, followed by a reception and stories in the parish hall.
Memorials may be made to St. David’s Episcopal Church Endowment or to a charity of one’s choice. Arrangements were handled by Ray Funeral and Cremation Service, Asheville, NC, rayfuneralcremation.com.