News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Obituaries

December 1, 2013

Lee J. Smith

TERRE HAUTE — Not all heroes are created on the battlefield. Every day for 27 years, Lee Smith, 69, of Naperville, Ill., waged a valiant campaign against multiple sclerosis. The disease defeated his body on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, but never defeated his spirit. Despite his ultimate quadriplegia, he never allowed illness to deprive him of a rich and inspiring life. Lee was born June 13, 1944, in Terre Haute, Ind. In high school he was president of the Temple Youth Group. He also earned a football letter, playing for the Wiley Red Streaks, an undefeated team his senior year. At Indiana University in Bloomington, Lee earned a degree in Business Management (with an uncredited minor in Bobby Knight basketball). In 1966 Lee entered the Eighth U.S. Army. After a stint at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, First Lieutenant Smith served as a Finance Disbursing Officer in Korea. After his discharge Lee created a highly successful sales career in communications. In 1977, he married Mary Jane Bradley and they settled in Naperville. Lee taught her to play racquetball, appreciate antique clocks and enjoy Dewars and soda with a twist. She turned him into an avid horseman and dog lover. They rode their Arabian horses together, cruised, visited Hawaii and the Virgin Islands and toured French Canada. Their son Steven — Lee’s greatest joy and accomplishment — was born in 1985.

After going on disability Lee channeled his energy into his family. He took Steve to White Sox and Bulls games. They relished watching Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen dominate the NBA. However, it was baseball which caused the first major rift in the family: Steve is a Cubs fan; Lee preferred the White Sox; Mary Jane cheered for both. As his disability worsened, Lee spent more time in physical therapy at Hines VA hospital and volunteered at the PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America). Lee read history and avidly followed politics; enjoyed going to dinner and movies with Mary Jane; joined Facebook to keep in touch with friends; savored Wiley High School and ZBT fraternity reunions. Lee loved life. He was wryly humorous and valiant in adversity: His family can’t imagine their world without him.  

He will be buried with military honors at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, 20953 W. Hoff Road, in Elwood, Ill. Guests should arrive in advance at 9:30 a.m.. A memorial luncheon to follow at the Smith family home, 203 Fiala Woods Court, Naperville. Donations to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, 801 18th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20006, would best honor Lee’s legacy. Arrangements entrusted to Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 44 S. Mill St., Naperville, Ill.. For more information, please call 630-355-0213 or

www.friedrich-jones.com

 

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