Visitation from 11 AM until the start of the funeral.
Life Story / Obituary
Hard working and inquisitive, charitable and kind, Brian Scott Smith lived his life with his heart on his sleeve. Always one to jump in and make others laugh, or lend a helping hand to those in need, Brian was respected and loved by all who knew him. Brian always took great pride in his work and treated all his co-workers as if they were a part of his family. He worked extremely hard to always pull his weight, never wanting to let anyone down—and did so with a smile on his face. Everyone naturally gravitated towards Brian, and his gift for storytelling was second to none. Brian leaves behind countless memories and moments that will be cherished by his family and friends forever.
For proud parents James Smith and Nancy Crawford, January 11, 1963 was a day for celebration, as they cherished the arrival their second son, Brian.
One of four, Brian was close to all his siblings, and that bond remained all throughout their lives. Lance was the oldest, then Brian, followed by Kerri, and finally Wendy. Brian and his siblings were born and raised in Michigan and shared many fond memories in their youth: pinatas for birthdays, large family dinners on holidays, visiting extended family, and large family reunions in October. There was never a dull moment in the Smith household.
Some of the best memories were made on annual September trips to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. Everyone would pile in vehicles and drive down, with a mandatory stop in Kitty Hawk to watch the hang gliders. Staying at a cottage on the beach, the kids would spend the day swimming, surfing, fishing, and catching crabs. There was no need to go out to eat because dinner would be made from whatever happened to be hauled in from the ocean that day. The bird sanctuary nearby was a popular spot and, despite being eaten alive by the mosquitos, always made for great family photos. Other fun activities included making wind chimes from things found on the beach during the day, playing cards and board games at night.
Although many fun times were had on these vacations, one of the most talked about memories was, instead, a frightening one. While visiting Yellowstone National Park, Lance saw a bear and started to throw rocks at it. The bear—with cubs nearby—reared up on its hind legs, let out a ferocious roar, and charged at both Lance and Brian. Despite being a record-holding track athlete, Lance was outrun by his younger brother. Brian ran for his life and didn’t realize that his heals were hitting him in the butt—he was convinced that the bear was catching him! Brian burst into the family’s cottage terrified with Lance in tow, who was laughing hysterically at the fear of his younger brother. Their father, with all his wisdom, remined them that “you only have to outrun the slowest guy and you will be fine.”
As a youth, Brian enjoyed playing with all the neighborhood kids: street baseball, kick the can, basketball, roller skating, building forts, tobogganing, and going tubing down the hills in the winter. Once Brian was in his teenage years, he enjoyed camping, having large bonfires, four wheeling, and going to the beach. Brian also developed an early love for nature; he loved growing flowers (in particular roses), trees, and always had the most beautiful rose garden. The family had an in-ground pool, and Brian helped his mother monitor the water quality—the pool water was always crystal clear under his watch.
Brian attended Jenison High School and graduated in 1982. While attending high school, he was an athlete on both the football team and the track team. Brian’s parents divorced in 1981, and eventually wound up remarrying other people. Brian’s father, James, had several jobs over the years as a welder, a forklift operator, and an accountant at Steelcase. Nancy, Brian’s mother, worked as a waitress until her kids were out of the house, and then went back to school to earn her nursing degree. Nancy continued work as a nurse for the next 20 years until she retired.
Although he never married, Brian had an incredibly special longtime girlfriend, Sheila Blair. He was always close with Sheila and her family. Brian did not have kids of his own but had nieces and nephews whom he adored spending time with. Working at Lacks Enterprises for his entire adult life, Brian was always an exemplary employee. He liked to say that he joined his “work family” in 1998. Brian spent the bulk of his career at Lack’s Airlane North and South, where he greeted everyone with a smile on his face. Brian’s dedication to his employer for twenty-two years was always something he was extremely proud of.
A friend to all and a stranger to no one, Brian always made sure to do whatever he could to help those around him. He even earned the nickname “the Saint” from the way he handled the most upset or unruly customers; Brian’s quick wit and humor calmed them down and often made them happy customers once again. He poured all his energy and time into the relationships and friendships he had developed through the years. He put other’s needs above his own, and deeply cared for those close to him.
The great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “the purpose of life is not to be happy—it is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Without a doubt, Brian Smith made a difference to nearly everyone he encountered and enjoyed a life well-lived. He is loved, he will be greatly missed, and he will most certainly will be remembered.
Brian Scott Smith passed away on Tuesday July 13th. He was born January 11, 1963 to James and Nancy Smith of Jenison, MI. Brian was preceded in death by his father James Smith. He is survived by his mother Nancy Chilvere, brother Lance J. Smith, Sisters Kerri Dembowske and Wendy Smith-Burns, and loving cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Brian was also survived by his girlfriend of many years Sheila Blair and her family. Brian was the sort of person who would do whatever he could for those around him, however he never liked being fussed over himself. One of Brian’s greatest qualities was he always focused on the positive and put his energies into the relationships and friendships he developed over the years. Brian was best known for his hard work ethic and positive attitude. He also possessed an active, inquisitive mind, and was always trying to fix something that was broken. When he learned something new, he passed it on to others, as well. This is reflective in his performance at his workplace Lacks Enterprises where Brian was part of the family since 1998. He spent of his career there at Airlane North and South, and was known for always having a smile on his face and a gift for making people laugh. He was storyteller and always had the most interesting stories to share. His 22 years with Lacks Enterprises was something that Brian was extremely proud of and thought of his fellow employees as family and never wanted to let them down. Brian always tried to be a friend to all and a stranger to none. He would always make the best of the situation by injecting humor even when the times seemed stressful. He was always the sort of person whom everyone wanted to know, wise, generous, and very respectful of others. Brian was very loved and will be deeply missed and he will be forever remembered for the kindest heart, best sense of humor, and greatest charity. The service to remember and celebrate Brian’s life will be held on Thursday, July 22nd, at 12 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE where friends may visit with his family from 11am until the service. There will also be time available for viewing and condolences on Wednesday July 21 from 2-4 and 6-8PM. To share a memory or sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com