David “Dickie Byrd” Smith (Feb. 7, 1929-May 18, 2022), formerly of Huntsville and now of Hazel Green, Alabama, died the morning of Wednesday, May 18, of congestive heart failure at Caring for Life Hospice Family Care in Huntsville.
David was born to a military family in Fort Knox, KY. He was preceded in death by his parents, Hubert Fay & Evalyne Mae Smith, his brother and hero, Hubert “Bill” Smith Jr. (Mary), his sister, Rosalie Smith Still (Charles Ray), his wife, Sandra Beson Smith, his daughter, Evelyn Fay Smith, his son, Harold Jerome Smith, his stepson, James David Beson, and his grandson, Jonathan Jerome Smith.
He is survived by his grandson, Kevin James Beson (Zack), his daughters, Kathryn Smith Baker and Carol Smith Walter (Jeff), and his son, Daniel Smith as well as grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
David’s work as an engineer began at Combustion Engineering in Chattanooga, Tenn. Throughout his career, his work included aerospace, aircraft and nuclear power. He held one patent and applied for three more. At one point, he held secret clearance. He participated in the build of Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Station in Maryland. He designed expansion loops and pulse inducers for Redstone Arsenal, participated in structural concepts of Boeing Aerospace with an umbilical and hatch latch prototype, and engineered fuel and hydraulic subsystems for Lockheed-Georgia Aircraft. He enjoyed working on the cutting edge in each era of his career.
David was known for his ingenuity and creative problem-solving skills. An inventor-artist soul, he loved to smooth a tangled problem, make a joke, engage in robust debate, and learn a new skill. One of the proudest days was when he took his solo flight to acquire his pilot’s license. Undaunted by the advent of home computer technology, he learned not only to use a computer, but also how to take one apart and put it back together. In his last years, when his health required that he remain closer to home, he focused his creative energy on adapting recipes and learning to cook new dishes. He was the definition of a lifelong learner.
Shortly before his passing, his beloved niece Charlotte wrote to him: “Your remarkable intelligence and intellectual curiosity have always been impressive, and they have not diminished. You’re willing to try to learn or to figure out just about anything. It is an inspiration……I love your wit and sense of humor and your philosophy of not taking life too seriously.”.
Above all else, David was a patriot. He served in the National Guard from 1950 to 1954. He lauded the Constitution, loved the flag, collected bald eagles, and said his favorite music was John Philip Sousa and his ilk.
Visitation will be at 1 PM, Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Hazel Green United Methodist Church. Services will follow at 2 PM with the Rev. Kim Scites officiating. David’s ashes will be interred at Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Caring for Life Hospice Family Care, 10000 Serenity Ln., Huntsville, Alabama.
Hazel Green Funeral Home is honored to serve the family.