William Edward (Bill, “Tuffy”) Smith, 63, passed away at Casa Maria Health Care Center on Dec. 15, 2012, after struggling with cancer for the third time.
He was born to Edward I. Smith and Mary Ellen (Childers) Smith on June 4, 1949, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Roswell.
Bill attended Hagerman Municipal Schools, and graduated with the Class of 1967. He played tenor sax in the HHS Bobcat Marching Band. His high school honors included a prestigious math award, recognizing his placement in the 99th percentile nationwide. Although usually a good student, he and several male classmates sometimes deliberately “neglected” to stay at school all day!
Bill was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Hagerman. After high school, Bill attended the University of Texas in Austin for two years. While at college, he drove a school bus and worked part time at various jobs.
His professional career reflected his various talents. Bill drove trucks — hauling hay, delivering gasoline and taking third-class mail from the East Coast to California. He was employed by Madsen Trucking, of Roswell, and Coastal Transport, of Artesia and Phoenix. For a number of years, Bill ran a delivery route for Alco, servicing several stores in the Texas/New Mexico district. Bill also tended bar, helping to open The Establishment in Roswell, working at The Oil Patch in Odessa, Texas, and the MGM Grand in Reno, Nev. While living temporarily in Laughlin, Nev., he dealt black jack and drove a city bus.
On Dec. 31, 1981, in Roswell, Bill married Patsy Patterson Gavazza, who preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his father Ed Smith; his mother Mary (nicknamed “Indian Mary”) Smith; his stepmother Peggy Smith; his paternal grandmother Maude Hardin; and numerous aunts, uncles and other relatives.
Bill is survived by his two sisters, Deborah Huckabee, of Hagerman, and Billye Turner, of Bend, Ore.; four nieces, Priscilla (Jim) Hedin, of Holly, Mich., Patricia Barnett, of Cincinnati, and Pamela Barnett (Roy Sanchez) and Peggye Barnett (Richard Peralta), of Hagerman; four great-nieces, Jessie Hedin, of Garden City, Kan., Kayla (Will) Perkins, of Johnson City, Tenn., and Kimberlee Sanchez and Nickye Barnett-Peralta, of Hagerman; and three great-nephews, Payte Hedin, of Holly, and Alfonso Sanchez and Jamie Barnett-Peralta, of Hagerman.
He is also survived by Patsy’s three children, Lori (William “Hub”) Coker and Cheryl (Frank) Gatlin, of Roswell, and Steve Gavazza, of California. Other family members left behind are grandchildren, Michael (Patricia) Gavazza, Christopher Gavazza, Sarah (Carlos) Pacheco, Cathleen Coker (Daniel) Gladu, Michelle (Shane) Talbert, Autumn (Paniel) Arguello, David, Kevin, Robert and Christiana Coker, Emmalee Ausman-Gavazza and Raymond Ausman-Gavazza. Bill was great-grandpa to Heaven, Hannah and Cameron Gavazza; Connie, Caitlin and Caleb Pacheco; Kylee Clements and Gaga Gladu; James Talbert; and Christopher, Patricia, Isabella and Justin Arguello.
“Uncle Bill” is well characterized by the following thoughts from his niece, Peggye Barnett, “I will miss your sense of humor, your sense of what Right looks like, your giving heart, your endless knowledge of the old school rockers, the way you shuffled your feet, your never wavering (“the glass is always a little over half-full”) optimism, and the way you captured the world frame-by-frame. Say hello to all our loved ones who went before you and let me know if it’s as peaceful there as you imagined Machu Picchu. If you are ever again in Vegas and you see a vampire, remember the laughter! I love you and I will miss the tomorrows we won’t have! PS: Use lots of shaving cream.”
He chose to be cremated and made special arrangements with his family for the disposition of his remains. A memorial celebration of Bill’s life will be held during the summer of 2013, with exact plans to be announced later.
Condolences can be made online at lagronefuneralchapels.com.
Arrangements are under the personal directions of the professionals at LaGrone Funeral Chapel.