Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Gene Smith

October 26, 1946 - July 22, 2018
Kalamazoo, MI



Saturday, July 28, 2018
2:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Following the service, family and friends will gather for a BBQ luncheon at Carrie & Brian's house at 10464 Wildwood Drive, Richland, MI 49083.

Driving Directions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Loaves & Fishes
901 Portage Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
(269) 343-3663
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Although he was taken from his loved ones too soon, Eugene Smith was a blessing to those around him. He worked hard and accomplished so much of which to be proud, yet he was a humble man whose greatest source of pride and joy was found in his family. Gene was a loving husband and father, and he truly treasured his role as a grandfather later in life. He was kindhearted and giving, and it has been said that he was forever a kid at heart. Life will never be the same without Gene here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.

Latvia faced great trials during the 1930s and 1940s as Germany invaded and occupied the nation during WWII. It was during this transitional time after the war that Eugene E. and Natalie (Guba) Smith were filled with great joy as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Eugene on October 26, 1946. Since his father was on M.P. in the Army, Eugene was born on an Army base in Salzburg, Austria. When Gene was 11 months old, his family boarded a military ship headed for the United States. The third of six children, he was joined in his family by his billings Marina, Helen, Frank, George and Harriett.

For the most part, Gene was raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. These were simple and hard times that grew character in Gene. His father was a photographer while his mother didn’t work outside of the home. Gene attended Kalamazoo schools including Loy Norris High School where he played football. He also worked on cars and worked as a line cook full-time to help support his family and save up to buy a car.

After graduating from high school, Gene was eager for all that life had in store. He enlisted in the Air Force, and while in the service he spent time in Vietnam. This time really impacted Eugene as he saw a lot of poverty, especially with children. As a young man he also took some college courses. Throughout his life Gene was known for his strong work ethic. He spent some time working for Keebler before branching out into the world of envelope sales. Gene was very successful selling envelopes as he often won trips as one of the top producers. This was a great line of work for him as he was very detail oriented when it came to the products he sold and learning more about sales. Gene worked hard to provide for his family and was proud of the work he did. He spent 35 years in the business before retiring.

New and exciting changes were in store for Gene when he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Patricia Geiger, and it didn't take them long to fall deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together they were married on December 1, 1984. The newlyweds took a memorable honeymoon to Florida and then returned to the area to settle into their new roles as husband and wife. Together they welcomed their daughter, Carrie, into their hearts and home in 1987. As a father Gene was fun, even goofy as he was really just a big kid at heart. He loved to play with Carrie and they could often be found play fighting and rough housing. As someone who loved to kid around, Gene also pranked her at times. As a family they enjoyed going to Florida and also Up North to Suttons Bay. Later in life Gene loved being a grandpa and often read to his grandchildren. He also made sure he had plenty of toys for them at his house, and he made himself available to babysit at the drop of a hat anytime Carrie needed him to. Gene loved his visits with his daughter Carrie. Anytime she was in town near his house, she would call and say she was close and he’d always say, “I’ll put a fresh pot on.” and they would enjoy fresh coffee and good conversation together.

Throughout his life Gene was one to keep busy. Especially as he got older, he enjoyed the simple things in life. During his younger years he was on a bowling league, and he also loved to golf. A sports fan, Gene never missed watching U of M football on Saturday, and he attended many of their games, too. He also enjoyed watching PGA events. Friday nights were family pizza nights, and he was known to tear up while watching a good episode of Dateline. As someone who liked keeping up with current events, Gene regularly read the paper and enjoyed talking politics. More recently he was a Trump fan. When it came to music, Gene liked the Moody Blues and Bee Gees. He also enjoyed the companionship of his cat, Murphy, and his dog, Phoebe. He liked computers and kept busy just messing around on them.

Jovial, good natured, and optimistic are just a few of the words that come to mind when reflecting on the life of Eugene Smith. He had a great sense of humor, was so fun loving, and had a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Gene was a man’s man who was said to have a European stubbornness about him at times. Dearly loved, he will be forever missed.

Eugene Smith died unexpectedly on July 22, 2018, at his home. Gene’s family includes his wife, Patricia Smith; daughter, Carrie (Brian) Methner; 2 granddaughters: Elouise and Samantha; 5 siblings: Marina (Reed) Curtis, Helen Deurloo, Frank (Janiene) Smith, George (Nancy) Smith and Harriett (Roy) Stafford; and many nieces and nephews. Cremation will take place with burial at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Services will be held Saturday 2 p.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900, a meal and fellowship will follow. Please visit Gene’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Loaves and Fishes.