Richard I. Smith, 94, of Lac Courte Oreilles, passed away at St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota, and went to his heavenly eternal home on Saturday, September 5, 2020. Richard was an elder of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.
Richard Ignatius Smith was born on May 10, 1926, in Hayward, and was the son of Fred and Madge (Heenan) Smith. He was a well-known member of the community. Richard graduated from Flandreau Indian School in South Dakota and had many fond memories of his time there. While there he was on the varsity boxing team. Every Friday night they went out for boxing matches.
He proudly served his country in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army: Petty Officer 2nd Class, U.S. Navy, 1943-1946, LST 477, received five battle stars; Sergeant, U.S. Army, 1948-1953, Korean War. Richard was a gunner on the LST 477, which was a landing ship that carried tanks. He was at the Battle of Iwo Jima and witnessed the flag being raised atop Mount Suribachi in the final stages of the Pacific War. While in the Navy, he continued to participate in boxing matches with other officers. Richard was interviewed on an episode of “Ojibwe Stories: Gaganoonididaa, Serving in WWII,” that was aired on November 21, 2017, where he spoke of his experience in the military.
Richard moved to Chicago where he married Pearl Larson and they had seven children together. He was employed there at Hertz Rent-A-Car for many years as an auto mechanic.He then moved back to Lac Courte Oreilles, where he worked various jobs including the DNR, LCO School and his favorite job at Ain Dah Ing in Shell Lake. Richard built a beautiful cabin where he resided for almost 25 years. He was very accomplished in many areas and had many interests. With his past boxing experience, he then started a boxing club when he moved back to LCO. Richard was very active in entering canoe races where he won many first place trophies. He enjoyed beadwork, working with birch bark, ricing, fishing, attending pow wows, traveling, playing the harmonica, listening to music, completing crossword puzzles in the daily paper, watching boxing and baseball on TV, going to baseball games, playing baseball and lifting weights. He loved nature, watching eagles and berry picking. He was a great cook and chopped his own wood into his 80s. Richard helped build a canoe that hangs on the wall in the Sevenwinds Casino Convention Center lobby. He loved reading and spent many hours reading daily. Richard read the entire Bible this summer. He was raised by his grandparents until he was 6 years old, and the Ojibwe language was spoken mostly in the home. His grandmother had an Ojibwe Bible and would read it to them.
He is survived by his children, Patricia Korolis, Carol Smith, Fred (Jody) Smith, Floyd Smith, Bruce Smith, Morgan Smith, and Bonnie Smith; sisters, Lorraine Smith and Sandy Bird; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Madge Smith; brother, Leonard Smith; sisters, Bertha Christensen, Marge O'Leary, Beatrice Stewart, Frieda McPherson Smith, Jeanette Lowry, and Geraldine Butterfield; and special friend Arlene.
A private family memorial service was held. Richard was laid to rest in Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner, with military honors accorded by the State of Wisconsin Military Honors Team and LCO AMVETS Post #1998.
Online condolences can be made at pineviewfuneralservice.com