Russell Yerby Smith, Jr., of Phippsburg, died on Wednesday, September 19, at Horizons Living and Rehab Center in Brunswick. Russ was born in Orange, New Jersey, on December 25, 1932, the oldest of three sons of Russell and Judith (Talcott) Smith. He attended South Orange public schools where he played tennis, some football, and swam on the high school team. He graduated from Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont, in 1951 and went on to Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, where he majored in economics and was president of his fraternity. Russ also was a member of NROTC while at Middlebury and upon graduating in 1955, attended Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. After graduating from OCS, he attended an 8-week Minesweeping Officers Course in Yorktown, Virginia, and was assigned to a minesweeper in Key West, Florida, where he spent the next three years.
Upon completing his tour in the Navy, Russ returned to New Jersey and a sales job with a packaging firm. He met and married Joan Vaile in 1961 and the two set off for Russ's new job in California, where they lived on the coast and had two children in the next two years. Russ was then transferred to the Chicago office for two years and then back to the home office in Morristown, New Jersey.
The family lived in nearby Brookside, New Jersey, for 27 years, where Russ enjoyed tennis, paddle tennis, skiing, boating, and, particularly, fishing. He loved all kinds of fishing off the coast of New Jersey, including tuna, and on summer vacations on Nantucket, where bluefish were the main attraction. When he wasn't out fishing, he could be found in his basement workshop, building fishing rods, making lures, and tying flies. He also turned his hobby into a small business, the Brookside Fish Pole and Reel Service. Shortly after returning to New Jersey, a third child was added to the Smith clan.
Russ and Joan retired to Phippsburg in 1994, where Russ continued to chase fish, now generally striped bass, in the Kennebec River. He was an active member of the Coastal Conservation Association, volunteered in the boat shop at the Maine Maritime Museum, served on several town commissions, and as president of the Parker Neck Association. Handy with tools, Russ loved tinkering, puttering and fixing things. He continued to make fishing rods for local sports fisherman and endeared himself to local tuna fishermen by repairing their reels for them.
In addition to his parents, Russ was predeceased by his brothers William Chandler Smith and Cyrus Porter Smith. He is survived by his wife, Joan, and children Kristin Carpenter and her husband, Danny, of Cordova, Alaska; Todd Smith and his wife, Jennifer Sutton, of Brattleboro, Vermont; Reid Smith and his wife, Kathleen, of Plaistow, New Hampshire; and five granddaughters, Maya Sutton-Smith, Leah Sutton-Smith, Margaret Smith, Annika Smith, and Kathleen Smith.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Maine Maritime Museum. The family will host a celebration of Russ's life at the Maine Maritime Museum's Long Reach Hall on November 3, at 3 p.m.
To share your thoughts and condolences with the family, please visit www.desmondfuneralhomes.com
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