Don grew up in the Vanzant community and attended eight years of school at Stoney Point and Vanzant schools. He attended Victory Church in his early years and was converted then.
Don began his lifelong career as a semi-truck driver at the early age of 15. His dad drove a truck, his brother, two nephews and one son, so driving was in the family genes. He hauled fruit and vegetables into different states for years and drove for Hirschbach Trucking Company for many years. He later became owner-operator of his own Freightliner semi-truck and logged a lot of miles over the road; in later years he drove a dump truck.
In 1964, he moved the family to a 200-acre farm three miles south of Norwood, Missouri, where they milked cows and continued to drive the truck. The family moved back to Vanzant in 1987.
Don truly loved people; he loved to visit over a cup of coffee, exchange trucking stories, talk about gardening, camping and he never met a stranger no matter where he traveled. The open road was his home for many years and his wife, Jenny, traveled with him some and one time drove into 15 states to see the sights. He grew up with his cousins and other family members and always had great and funny stories to tell of their younger years. He enjoyed many miles on his motorcycle, but the truck became his favorite ride.
In 1954 he met Ethel Genevie “Jenny” Bellinger in Woodland, California, and they were united in marriage on April 3, 1956 and were blessed with two sons and three daughters.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, Rosie and Eva Smith; his only brother, George Smith; a nephew, David Smith; and a granddaughter, Amber Smith.
He is survived by his wife, Jenny of the home at Vanzant; children, Tammy and Bill Schoen of Brighton, Missouri, Burt and Tresia Smith of Norwood, Pat Smith of Kansas City, Missouri, Lorie and Bobby Gray of Norwood, and Julie and Joe Morton of Norwood; 11 grandchildren, Brandon, Clayton, Ben, Tyler, Jeff, Cory, Rachel, Joey, Jackie, Joni and Jay; 14 great-grandchildren, Gracie, Aiden, Logan, Ambreal, Byron, Tobias, Hailey, Madisyn, Jalynn, Jakson, Shelby, Jaxson, Levi and Lucas; two step grandchildren, Braidyn and Niki; four extra great-grandchildren, Dakota, Katlyn, Lily and Nolan; a sister-in-law, Joycelynn Smith of Vanzant; and a brother-in-law, Raymond Bellinger of Myrtle Creek, Oregon.
Don departed this life on June 8, 2015 at the age of 77 after a long battle with emphysema, with his family at his side and where he wanted to be, in the old family home at Vanzant, where he had been born and raised.
At his request, there will be no special services. Cremation was under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home of Cabool, Missouri. Online condolences may be made at www.egcfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Hospice Compassus in memory of Don.