James A. Smith


GLENDALE – James A. Smith, “Jim” of Glendale, AZ, age 87, our beloved father, husband, grandfather, and brother passed away peacefully on August 4, 2020. Jim was born November 19, 1932, in Brainerd, MN to Elsa (Peterson) and Ross Smith. He attended Washington High School, in Brainerd, where he played basketball (‘47-’51) and later was inducted into his high school Hall of Fame. Jim went on to play basketball at Kansas State University where he received a bachelor’s degree (’51-’55). Upon graduation, he served his country as an officer of the United States Air Force in Korea (’55-’57). Jim returned to K-State University to continue his education toward a master’s degree. He coached two varsity high school basketball teams to state championships (Nebraska 1959, Arizona 1964). Jim was one of the founding faculty staff at Glendale Community College, Glendale, AZ. While teaching and coaching at GCC, he continued his education at Arizona State University and ultimately received his Doctor of Education in 1972.

He loved being outdoors and the activities that came with it. Some of his favorites were hiking, biking, or  just working around his yard. One of his most memorable biking trips was at age 56 when he rode his bicycle from the border of Canada to the border of Mexico along the Pacific Coast Highway in less than 30 days. He hiked all over Arizona and made numerous trips through the Grand Canyon. In Jim’s later years, enjoyment came from being “Papa” to his six grandchildren, spending time, and supporting them in their educational growth, sports, and other various activities. Jim is survived by his loving wife of 27 years Marta, brother Roy Smith, sisters Myrtle Tuil & Helen (Marty) Olsen, three daughters - Jaime Farrier (Tommy), Leslie Baird (John), Shelby Crowley (Dick), six grandchildren Courtney (Sean), Carley, Emily (Danni), Michael, Jack, Grace, and one great-grandchild, Elsie Joe. Jim is preceded in death by his parents, and two siblings, Vivian Smith and Betty (Smith) Harrison. Jim’s family will celebrate his life together privately.

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