James D. Smith was born in Ashland County, Ohio on March 1, 1925 to Gailord and Ruth Smith. When Jim was thirteen, he lost his father to a tragic work accident, and Ruth moved the family to Mansfield. After graduating from Mansfield High School, Jim joined the U.S. Air Force and served during World War II. After the war he met his lifetime sweetheart, Eilene Conkle, at Wittenberg College, where they both studied when they had to and played Bridge whenever they could. In 1948 Jim and Eilene married and settled in Mansfield where they raised three children and were active members in the community and the Park Avenue Baptist Church.
After twenty-five years in the insurance business, Jim left his job as Vice President of Kemper Insurance Company (previously Richland-Knox) and found a new adventure in Oxford, Ohio. Jim and Eilene opened a Baskin Robbins on High Street and spent 15 years scooping ice cream, running the business, and enjoying conversation with the students, faculty, and friends in the town they came to love. Jim was a member of the Oxford United Methodist Church, served on the Oxford Recreation Board, with the United Way, and as president of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce and the Oxford Country Club.
Jim was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Jim is preceded in death by his wife Eilene, daughter Diane, parents Gailord and Ruth, and sister Eileen. He is survived by his sons Mark and Greg, daughter Linda, daughters-in-law Vicki and Kristy, and son-in-law Malcolm, as well as eight grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and a number of nieces and nephews. Jim was a bright light who brought fun and joy to his family and friends for 96 years. He will be sorely missed.
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