Joe Ellis Smith departed this life on January 20, 2017, at the age of 90, at his home southwest of Leedey. Joe was born on September 1, 1926 to Ellis X and Vina Payne (Sketchley) Smith a quarter mile south of the Dewey Cemetery. Joe attended school at Texmo and Union Center and graduated high school in 1944 at Hammon. After high school, Joe joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served for one year and five days until he was honorably discharged in 1946. On September 22, 1952 Joe married Leah Banks in Monterey, Mexico. After marriage, Joe and Leah lived their entire life on Quartermaster Creek and Hay Creek, both within a mile of the Dewey Cemetery. Joe was a dirt pusher, farmer, rancher and artist. Joe and Leah raised three children, Lowry, Monte and Annie. Joe was an avid collector of antique farm implements, cast iron tractor seats, Navajo rugs and jewelry. Joe also enjoyed reading Zane Grey books and watching the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of all his hobbies, Joe was most passionate about his “junk” art. He was proud of the countless hours that went into his pieces, but he was also his harshest critic. Joe enjoyed visiting with the countless people who came to view his collections. From the hundreds of ponds, miles of terraces and land clearings he built and the antique wrench gates scattered throughout the countryside, not to mention is amazing metal work ranging from a simple wind vane to the buffalo and longhorn that currently greet visitors at the historic Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Joe Smith left his mark throughout western Oklahoma. But his most important contribution is the family that he loved, mentored and guided who will always carry a piece of Joe Smith with them. The continued contribution they make will always be a reminder and tribute to a great man that helped shape them.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Ellis X and Vina Payne Smith, daughter-in-law, Donna Lee Smith and brother-in-law Dave Nistler. He is survived by his wife, Leah B. Smith; his children, Lowry Smith and wife Connie of Leedey, OK; Monte Smith and wife Donita of Hammon, OK; and Annie Switzer and husband Mike of Leedey, OK; grandchildren Randy Smith and partner Matthew Warren of Oklahoma City, OK; Brady Smith and wife Chelsea of Oklahoma City, OK; Donny Smith and wife Candy of Leedey, OK; Kevin Smith and wife Kerri of Elk City, OK; Emily Switzer of Oklahoma City, OK and Elana Switzer Bray and husband Mike of Oklahoma City, OK. Joe is also survived by two step grandchildren Brad Dean and wife Jenny of Edmond, OK and Bryan Dean and wife Jessica of Oklahoma City, OK. He was also survived by four great-grandchildren, Vivian and Elliot Smith and Cooper and Sloan Smith and three step-great-grandhildren, Braydon and Evan Dean and Bray Dean. He is also survived by his sister, Barbara Nistler of Cheyenne, OK, and brother Shannon Smith and wife Jeanelda Smith of Hammon, OK as well as many more friends and family.
Graveside services were held Monday, January 23, 2017 at the Dewey Cemetery. Services were under the direction of Shaw Funeral Home of Leedey, OK.
The Cheyenne Star, January 26, 2017