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Fred C. Smith

- December 24, 2020

Fred C. Smith of Mill City was a quiet man with a blue-collar life, overcoming a rough childhood and working more than 40 years in the mills. But in July 2001, Fred's tale became a love story. That is when he got a phone call from Linda Chapman, his childhood sweetheart, after she found his number in the newest phone book. They talked and giggled like teens until their phones died. They married the following year at Anthony Hall in Sublimity and loved each other completely. Fred, 80, died Dec. 24 after fighting Lymphoma and COVID-19. He could have gone to the hospital, but he chose to remain home with Linda and family by his side. A celebration of Fred's life is being planned for the spring or summer.

Born to Council and Mildred Dora Gregory Smith, Fred is survived by his brother Tom Smith. He is also survived by his children Fred Smith (Stacy), Daniel Smith (Karen), Maria Gilbert (Steve), Michelle Bennett (David), Melissa Bennett (Dan), Jill Bird (Shane), and Lorrie Hendrix (Richie), as well as 11 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by sisters Patty Lockwood and Jeanett Smith.

Fred graduated from Santiam High School in 1959. Two years later, he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed as a corpsman at Naval Medical Center San Diego. In his golden years, he enjoyed telling stories of life in "the ward". After retiring from the Navy in September 1965, Fred returned home and settled in Mill City. He got a job as a lathe operator and worked in the Simpson, Champion, and Freres mills. He worked tirelessly, often seven days per week, to make ends meet and provide for his family. He enjoyed taking his boys hunting and fishing in the Santiam Canyon wilderness on his days off. Then Fred met Linda, and everything changed. He found a woman who he loved with all his heart, and her children and grandchildren embraced him with open arms.

Fred spent the rest of his life enjoying his suddenly extended family. He hunted deer and elk with his son-in-law. He went on family beach trips and feasted on crab, clams, fish, and oysters. He went with Linda to Colorado to visit one of his stepdaughters, and then to Canada to visit his mother-in-law. He traveled with family to Seattle for Seahawks and Mariners games. He found solace trimming the roses and shrubs in the yard of his River Road home. Fred also cared deeply about his hometown and decided to turn his feelings into action. He won a seat on the City Council from Jan. 2011 until Feb. 2015 and served on the Water and Sewer Committee.

Every Christmas, Fred attached sappy, affectionate cards to Linda's gifts that made everyone else laugh and blush. After he died, Linda found a note he sent with flowers on their first wedding anniversary. It read: "Thank you so much for marrying me. You will forever be the light and love of my life. The family would like to thank the entire staff at Oregon Oncology and Kindred Hospice for their kindness and care of Fred. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Salem Health Foundation designated to SHF Cancer Care. Serving the Family, North Santiam Funeral Service, Stayton.


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