On June 27, 1936, William Harry Joseph Smith was born in the small coal mining town of Gillespie, Illinois. As a young boy he was called Billie Joe-then later a junior high coach called him BJ and that continued for the rest of his life. BJ had 3 younger siblings - George, Debbie (deceased) and Jody.
As a young boy he was very interested in playing sports and excelled in all sports but especially basketball. He attended Southern Illinois University on a basketball scholarship, played one year and then due to finances worked a year in a steel mill. He returned to college on a scholarship at Eastern Illinois University. He was All-American and is in the EIU Hall of Fame for many records he set, one of which was for scoring the most points in a game of 56.
He met his wife Dorothy in college and they married in 1957. On July 20, 2020 they celebrated 63 years of marriage. BJ started his professional life working in a bank in Mattoon, Illinois. His competitive spirit led him to a career in Educational Publishing sales. One company transferred him from Illinois to Atlanta, GA and then to Columbia, SC and finally settling in Portland in 1969.
BJ loved music, played the trumpet, and sang in the Lutheran choral and the Mellow Macs singing group. He continued his love for sports in Oregon, playing tennis and basketball in pickup games. He was a loyal fan of college and professional sports and supported such teams as Portland Timbers, Oregon Ducks, Chicago Bears, St Louis Cardinals, and the Portland Trailblazers.
It was a joy for BJ to be a father and grandfather. His 3 daughters and families live in the Portland area and he could be seen supporting all of them in any endeavor. BJ had a depth of faith in God. He served as elder and board member at Prince of Peace and St. Matthew Lutheran Church. He could be more recently be seen sitting at the welcome desk at St. Matthew’s greeting members and visitors.
His generous spirit, kind heart and warm laugh will be missed every day. His family is comforted knowing he is in his heavenly home where they will see him again!
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