‘Puppy’ Smith remembered as ‘fantastic friend’ | AspenTimes.com

‘Puppy’ Smith remembered as ‘fantastic friend’

Steve Benson
Family and friends of Harold "Puppy" Smith hug and share stories in Red Butte Cemetery Monday afternoon. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

Friends and family celebrated the life of Harold “Puppy” Smith at the Elks Club on Monday following a service at the Aspen Community Church. Smith died while on a hunting trip with friends and family in Delta County on Sept. 16. He was 79.”He died doing what he loved to do,” said Jack Ilgen, Smith’s brother-in-law and one of his closest friends. Based on the enormous gathering at the Elks Club, it’s clear Smith was a beloved member of the community and a friend to many. “He was a fantastic friend to me,” said “Shot” Alcorn, who knew Smith for more than 40 years. “I never heard him speak a bad word about anybody.” Smith was born in Aspen on July 23, 1925, to Nelson “Curly” Smith and Pearl Barker-Smith, and was a life-long resident of the Roaring Fork Valley. He was the streets superintendent for the city of Aspen for 37 years. He served in the U.S. Army and was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.Friends and family described a gentle, quiet man who had a passion for fishing, hunting, golf and cooking, and always put others first.

“He would do anything for you. He was a guy that helped anybody he met,” Ilgen said. “He never made an enemy in his life.” Smith was also one of the earliest members of the Aspen Fire Protection District – he was badge No. 3 – which was formed in 1953 to support the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department. “You don’t find people like him anymore,” said Jesse Caparrella, who knew Smith from the time he was a little boy and later served with him on the fire department. “He was a great outdoorsman and an excellent cook.” Smith was known for his cooking skills valleywide, especially his fish fries, which he prepared for friends, family and the community as a whole on numerous occasions. He also volunteered to cook meals for the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf, according to Patsy Malone, who worked with Smith for years as the human resources director for the city of Aspen. “He cooked for so many events,” Malone said. As the story goes, during his lengthy tenure as the streets superintendent, Smith never fired an employee. “If he had any trouble with his staff, he’d just give ’em a look,” Malone said. “Everyone had so much respect for him.”

He also cleared sidewalks in front of homes where he knew elderly people lived. “I don’t know if you could ever put it into writing what that man was,” Malone said. “He was just an incredible, incredible man – we were so blessed to have him in our lives.” Jesse Maddalone, who knew Smith his entire life, said he was one of a kind. “Nobody could be any better,” he said. “Nobody ever came close to him.”Smith came from a family of 12 brothers and sisters and five stepbrothers and sisters.He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, who he married in 1948; his sons, Harold Jr. and Jim; nephews Joe Jr., Roy and Jerry and nieces Gretchen and Gloria, all of whom he helped raise after the death of his brother, Joe. He has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. “We were a large family but a very loving family,” said his sister, Louise “Snooks” Zordel. “He was the most wonderful, beautiful person in the whole world. He was loved by everyone.”

His twin sister, Hazel “Sis” Johnson recalled the time Smith was paid to take a puppy while on a fishing trip in Oklahoma. Apparently two kids approached Smith with the puppy and tried to sell it to him for a dollar. “It was the ugliest dog you’ve ever seen,” Johnson remembered. “And [Smith] said, ‘You’d have to give me a dollar to take that dog.'” The two children returned with the puppy and a dollar, and “he had to take it,” she laughed. But that’s not how Smith got his nickname, “Puppy.” Apparently that was given to him by friends when he was a child learning to swim, since all he could do was the doggie paddle. Contributions in his name can be made to the Puppy Smith Memorial Fund at any Alpine Bank or Youth Zone.Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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