Don Smith

What’s the attraction of a place? Is it the natural beauty, or maybe the community of people?

Don was attracted to both. His 15-year, part-time residence on Shaw was the first place that drew him to the San Juan Islands. Upon retirement, he moved to Lopez Island and then could fully enjoy the beauty surrounding his home on Upright Head.

Looking out from the deck, the steady passage of the ferry boats and the quiet sight of sailing craft passing through Upright Channel was a constant joy. Don was such an enthusiastic supporter of all things “San Juan.” He was a great storyteller, mesmerizing houseguests with his stories about fishing, where to find the myriad hiking trails and a must-see picnic spot, Watmough Bay. There was never a lack of Dungeness crab with Don around. He enjoyed showing visitors how to bait the traps and where to find the best crabbing spots and yes, how to cook and clean them. He was especially fond of mentoring the younger guests who learned the difference between a Douglas fir and a cedar tree. He taught them respect for the forest, water conservation, and boating protocol. His was a full and rich life, surrounded by the crisp clear waters of Lopez and nestled in the majestic forest trees.

The balance to this life was the Lopez community. Don was very social and an ardent supporter of the community and its needs. He was instrumental in the funding and building of the Lopez Center for Community and Arts and served on the boards of the Lopez Island Family Resource Center and Lopez Island Community Tennis Association. He was ever-present at most of the island’s fundraisers—always a joyful presence, whether he was modeling aprons for the Lopez Children’s Center or volunteering for numerous fundraising dinners.

The San Juan Preservation Trust was dear to his heart. Don knew the future of the San Juan Islands was dependent upon dedicated volunteers, along with visionaries who would preserve what he cherished for future generations.

Don was fortunate to have spent the last few weeks of his life gazing out at the sea, seeing the forest standing tall. With a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face he said, “What a blessed man am I.”