Wallace Smedley Sr. (September 21, 1926 – October 22, 2009), my Father, my mentor, and my friend passed away last Thursday at about 11:50 AM.
He was a very rare person. His parents split up when he was very young. His step father beat him, and at eight years old, he decided he had had enough. He left home in New Mexico and hitched his way to Arizona. Once in Arizona, he got a job in a lime mill (pulverizing rocks into powder for use in concrete and masonry). Eight years old! He never really stopped working from that time. He later found his father and lived with him until his teens.
World War II broke out. He enlisted in the Navy, and fought to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese aggression (something my wife and I are very grateful for, as she is Filipina).
When the war ended, he stayed on, but soon found peace time military life to be far too boring. So he came back to Arizona, found his Father again, and went back to work laying brick.
He was married an astounding seven times before meeting and marrying my Mother. This was his final marriage, and it lasted fifty one years. Sometimes you have to keep trying until you get it right.
He continued to work in masonry until he retired due to cancer. He was diagnosed in 1995 with either colon cancer that metastasized into his bladder, or the other way around (the doctors were never specific on this). He underwent surgery and a year of chemo and was finally declared cancer free.
Of course, the trick is to stay cancer free, and with his age it was a long shot. The cancer returned about four years ago (he never told me about this). He decided that the surgery and chemo was too much to go through again, and he stuck with that decision.
He passed away painlessly, in his sleep, in his own bed and on his own terms. He refused a hospital stay, and was ready to go.
He is survived by my mother Wanda, my older sisters Robin and Barbara, myself and my younger brother Hank.
He had a work ethic like no one I have ever known, or likely ever will. He made no allowances for ignorance, and asked for no breaks. He taught me that if I want something, work for it. If I can’t have it, be happy with what I have.
I miss him a lot.