James L. Smith, age 84, of Yankton, South Dakota, died Thursday, June 12, 2014, at Avera Sister James Care Center in Yankton.
A memorial service will be 2:00 PM on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton, South Dakota with Reverend Bob Lacey officiating. Jim and Joyce's ashes will be scattered together at a later date. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the memorial service on Saturday at the funeral home.
Jim was born September 13, 1929 in Yankton, South Dakota, to James Morrison Smith and Mattie (Meng) Smith. He was raised on the family farm northwest of Yankton and developed a lifelong love of farming. Jim completed grade school at the Pershing School District #50 and graduated from Yankton HS in 1947. He studied mechanical engineering for two years at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology before enlisting in the regular Army in 1951. After receiving basic training and medical training in Camp Pickett, VA, Jim was assigned as a medic at Ft Sam Houston, Brook Medical Center near San Antonio, TX where he became a medical equipment maintenance instructor. While there he married his fiancée, Joyce Johnson of Yankton, SD, on January 24, 1953. At the end of the Korean War he was changed from active to inactive duty (Jim was inactive for an additional 6 years) and returned to South Dakota in January of 1954 to resume his life as a farmer. His son, Robert James, was born December 8, 1954.
Jim enjoyed an interest in aviation which began with building model airplanes as a child and progressed to earning his pilot's license in 1954 through the GI Bill. Over the course of 40 years he completed the construction of a licensed airplane from a kit of materials and had the satisfaction of seeing it fly in 2013. Jim was a charter member of the Yankton Regional Aviation Association and a long-time member of the Experimental Aircraft Association. He also served as an executive officer of the Yankton Squadron in the Civil Air Patrol.
With his interest in engineering, Jim enjoyed re-designing machinery and constructing equipment, tools and buildings of his own design. His community service included a term as President of the Yankton County Rural Youth and as a member of the school board of Pershing School District #50.
Survivors include his son Robert and wife Norma (Hilgemyer) of Billings, Montana, sister-in-law, Betty Johnson of Yankton, and nieces and nephews: Marjory (Robert) Nelcosky, Cathy (Mike) Mound, Jim (Joan) Smith, Jerry (Anjana) Smith, Janine (Rick) Sarmir, Gary (Jean) Davis, Jeff Davis, JoEllen (Dan) Erickson and Dan (Sharon) Moeller.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Joyce; brother, Warren and wife Fran; sister-in-law, Ardelle Davis and husband Harold; and brother-in-law, Lloyd Johnson.
Memorials may be given to the A.C.E. Scholarship Fund of the Yankton Regional Aviation Association or to a charity of your choice.
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