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James Robert Smith was born on February 2, 1940, to Lester and Laura (Carter) Smith of New Sharon, Iowa. He was one of four boys (Lester Jr, Dick and Lewis). Jim graduated valedictorian from New Sharon High School. He then attended and graduated from William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Jim worked for Bloom Builders in Oskaloosa constructing pole barns, which inspired his love for woodworking and carpentry. For many years he was a successful farmer at Cedar, Iowa, spending winters hauling propane for Allied Gas and Chemical Co.
On November 25, 1988, Jim married Karen Fischer in Pella, Iowa. Together they moved from the Cedar farm to a new farming opportunity at Jewell, Iowa where he served on the board of the local CO-OP. During the ten years Jim and Karen resided in Jewell, they became invested in the community as active members of the Lions Club, and the Bethesda Lutheran Church. On many weekends they were found square and round dancing with good friends across Iowa as part of Stratford Strutters. Jim retired from farming in 2002 and they returned to Pella and family.
Helping others was Jim's passion and he loved putting his skills to use by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and various mission trips with the church. When his health began failing, Jim could be found "supervising" a project in order to be a contributor, Jim shared his love of woodworking by making unique gifts for his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Over his life, Jim was fortunate enough to be in a father role for ten children including: Phil (Jennifer) Smith of Mississippi, Mike (Vicky) Smith of Florida, Sadowna (Mark) Conarroe of Missouri, Daylin (Lori) Van Dyk of Iowa, Sam Van Dyk of Florida, Karla (Gagan) Kamal of Iowa, Margaret (Greg) Dukeman of Alabama, Sarah (Rod) McGlothlen of Iowa, Andy (Ellen) Fischer of North Carolina, and Mark (Angie) Fischer of Ohio. Jim had twenty five grandchildren and twelve great- grandchildren and leaves two brothers: Dick (Marlene) Smith of New Sharon and Lewis (Rita) Smith of Parnell, IA. He was preceded in death by his previous wife, Lavoe Smith; his parents, Lester and Laura Smith, and his brother, Lester Smith, Jr.
His family brought Jim great joy and kept him very busy as he and Karen would often traveI to many stops across the eastern United States which typically included a list of "handyman" projects that allowed him to use his love of carpentry.
His family and friends will miss his quick wit and warm, unbounded generosity. Memorial services were held on Friday, December 21, at the First Reformed Church in Pella. Van Dyk - Duven Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
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