Danny “Dan” Ray Smith, 71, of Portland, Passed away on Thursday July 21, 2022.
Born in Portland, Michigan on March 28, 1951, Dan was the third of eleven children to Marjorie and Joseph Smith. He attended Saint Patrick Catholic School as well as Portland Public Schools and would later settle down in the same town where he grew up. Dan was first married to Deborah (Almy) and had his first three daughters, Laura, Barb, and Donna. Dan went on to marry the love of his life, Roxane (Vogel) and fathered two more daughters, Sarah and Shannon as well as raising their son, Scott.
To describe Dan in one word may be a little difficult as there are so many different options that would accurately fit. Kind Hearted, friend to everyone, honest, hero, father to more than his own, enthusiastic and at times embarrassing are just some that those who knew him would use.
Dan Retired from General Motors in 2001 after 32 years of service. During that time, he spent 15 years as a committee man of the local 602 where he enjoyed working with countless people to ensure they had representation in the workplace. For those that knew him, he stood up for what he believed in and was able to inspire not only his own family and friends, but many people in the community that he got to know through his lifetime.
Dan was an adventurous man who never chose the path of least resistance. He owned and operated, with his wife and mother, Smitty's Canoe Livery in Portland. There he would put joy into the faces of many people, young and old, looking to escape the grind of everyday life to have a relaxing and peaceful trip down the river. Dan's experience with canoeing started with a simple Aluminum Canoe and through the years would try out more options until finally settling into his favorite brand we all know and love, a Kruger crafted Sea Wind. He could sometimes be found helping to build these vessels with his friend, Verlen Kruger in Lansing, Michigan. One of Dan’s biggest adventures included a three-month trip, “North to Alaska” to take on the mighty Yukon River, paddling through new communities along the way and building more stories than could possibly be told in a single night. There were few rivers in Michigan that Dan's paddle didn't touch as well as those in many other states including the Mississippi as well as ocean paddling. If you ever asked Dan how much further until reaching the destination on the river, you would most likely get a response of, "just around the next bend" whether it was or not.
Keeping busy, Dan would take part in the Grand River Beautification, helping to make sure his favorite highway was preserved as nature intended. He also served as president of the Verlen Kruger Memorial Planning where he and others were selflessly able to raise enough money to erect a life-sized bronze statue in honor of their friend and hero. Living across the street from the memorial, Dan always made sure this quiet, peaceful place in his community was upkept with flowers and love, so people could enjoy it while passing through.
Dan did not lack a sense of humor, always giving a slow roll into a deep, gut felt laugh. The "Breeze" was a name that many came to know him by as he could roll into a gathering with full force, and just like the Breeze, be gone, onto the next activity, leaving people with only the highlighted memories of the day. "Dano" also had a knack for entertainment! In his early years, he would practice magic and entertain at local shows. No one ever truly knew how he was able to pull a quarter from behind a child's ear, but when he did, he left them speechless and wanting more. Aside from magic, he was also an avid collector of yoyo’s and could do a variety of tricks with his collection. Dan loved spending time with his family and working in his, at times, over the top garden in the serenity of his backyard. In the fall, you could often find him on the edge of his seat on a Saturday, playing hail to the victors with the volume turned up when Michigan scored a touchdown against the team down the road. Grandpa Dan as he was known to some, would never let his grandkids leave his house without using the famous tagline "See ya later alligator, after while crocodile, Dundee".
Dan was preceded in death by his mother, father, and two son-in-laws, Brad Busch and Lyle “Butch” Chick, niece, Stacy Smith and his favorite dog, Daisy. Surviving him are his wife, Roxane (Vogel) Smith, children: Laura (Smith) and Jim Stiles, Barb Smith, Scott Smith, Donna (Smith) Busch, Sarah Smith, Shannon Smith (Ken Harrell); 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by siblings: Carol (Smith) and Terry Kellogg, Mike Smith, Judy (Smith) and Bill Reid, Rick Smith, Jerry Smith, Dennis and Ann Smith, Vicki Smith (Greg Swartner), Colleen (Smith) and Sam Yim, Steve and Lynda Smith, Scott Smith, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
The viewing will be held at the Lehman Funeral Home in Portland on July 27, 2022 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. The funeral will be at the Lehman Funeral Home on July 28, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. with a luncheon to follow at the Kruger Memorial on Canal Street in Portland. When attending the lunch-in, be sure to bring a chair. There will be a Sea Wind tribute in Dan's Honor, if you have one, put it on top of your vehicle before coming to the funeral service. Online condolences may be made at www.lehmanfuneralhomes.com.