Paso Robles native Gary David Smith passed away Thursday, Feb.7, 2019, at the age of 76. Gary was born March 17, 1942, to Eunice Nicklas Hoffman and Clark Smith. Gary was the grandson of Clark Sherwood Smith and Olive Wright Smith, founders of Smith’s Sporting Goods, located in the 1200 block of Park Street in Paso for almost 100 years (1893-1987).
Gary grew up in Paso Robles and shared stories with his kids and others about hitchhiking around San Luis Obispo County as a young boy, riding his bike to Cambria, climbing Morro Rock (which is now a criminal act), and doing most of this unbeknownst to his parents as long as he was home in time for dinner.
He graduated from Paso Robles High School in 1960 and graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in 1964, majoring in Mathematics. After college, he went to work for Rocketdyne, which built the F-1 engine. He never ceased to be amazed about the power of the rockets and his time at Rocketdyne. Five F-1 engines were used in the Saturn V rocket that powered Apollo 11 to the Moon.
Gary moved to Sunnyvale in 1968 to work for Hewlett Packard and then worked together with his brother Gerald Smith at a company in the early days of Silicon Valley. After later returning to HP and then the division which spun off to become the company Agilent, he retired to Atascadero with his wife Janice to his dream home they named Asolare. Asolare, a place he visited on St. John in the US Virgin Islands in 2004, means the leisurely and agreeable passing of time, unburdened by any pressure of purpose.
Gary loved riding motorcycles and had many over the years. He rode down into Mexico beginning in the 1970s and enjoyed countless rides around California and the Western United States and Canada. With his love of travel (by motorcycle if possible), he inspired friends to undertake long distance rides, including a friend that rode around the world. He was riding until he was almost 70 years old and only quit when his health would no longer allow it.
Gary had an encyclopedic knowledge of Paso Robles and the history of Paso Robles. Gary was a long-time Board Member and Docent of the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum. He contributed his boundless energy and idea to the Pioneer Museum and he was a reliable source for anything to do with Paso Robles history.
Smith’s Sporting Goods in Paso Robles supplied firearms and ammunition for ranchers in Northern San Luis Obispo County, so with the help of friends at the Pioneer Museum, Gary recreated the Smith Sporting Goods storefront in the museum and has donated and loaned the museum many items including sporting goods sold in the original store, Clark Smith’s fine collection of antique firearms, bicycles, fishing gear, stuffed animals and, of course, the famous spider that was lowered onto unsuspecting patrons.
Gary is survived by his loving and dedicated wife of 40 years, Janice Barclay Smith, and children Dennis Smith (Jill Semmerling), Shannon Smith (Steve Englert), Glenn Smith (Dianne Carpenter), Matthew Smith (Terri Stecher), Gayle Young (Gary Young), and Greg Kelso (Hanne Hansen Kelso). In addition, he is survived by his 12 grandchildren that he absolutely adored, Gregory Kelso, Jr., Grethe Kelso, Haedyn Smith, Chase Smith, Wyatt Smith, Pierce Young, Paige Young, Kierstin Lipes, Jack Stechersmith, Finn Stechersmith and Carter Smith. He enjoyed his grandkids and kept a journal of funny things they said over the years. He is also survived by his brother Gerald Smith, his wife Pat, and nieces Lisa Smith and Shauna Aragon. He was predeceased by his parents, Clark Smith, Eunice Nicklas Hoffman and Les Hoffman, and by his brother Dennis Smith.
Gary was a great friend and such a delight to be around. He never lost his sense of humor throughout his long illness and his stories kept everyone laughing. He was a great storyteller, and he would go out of his way to help a friend or a stranger. We will miss him so much.
Gary fought a long battle with Scleroderma and his family was blessed that he did so well for so long with the disease, exceeding expectations by many years. The family would like to thank his physician Dr. Gregory Ellison, his pulmonologist Dr. Jeffrey Sager, and his cardiologist Dr. Robert Doria. The family would also like to thank Wilshire Hospice for their care and dedication over the last few months. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Pioneer Museum in Paso Robles, Calif. www.pasoroblespioneermuseum.org.
A memorial in honor of Gary will be held at noon on March 16, 2019, at the Pioneer Museum.