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Thomas Smith

Thomas M. “Tom” Smith

August 29th, 1941 - December 21st, 2021

Tom's Obituary

August 29, 1941 to December 21, 2021
Tom Smith left a legacy of excellence in the fire service, BCYF & commitment through action in his beloved town with Post 85 & "Friends"

Thomas M. Smith, 80, retired Berrien Springs-Oronoko Fire Chief, and owner/operator of Smith Welding in Berrien Springs for several decades, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, at Golden Shore Assisted Living in Benton Harbor.

Tom was born on August 29, 1941, to George and Gladys (Tollas) Smith in Benton Harbor, MI. He graduated from Berrien Springs High School, class of 1959. Tom then attended Whirlpool Tech through Benton Harbor Community College, now Lake Michigan College, earning his Industrial Engineering degree, He served in the Army National Guard for six years from 1963 to 1969. In 1963, Tom also joined his father full time as a second-generation owner at Smith Welding, which was started in 1950. He owned and operated Smith welding until retiring and closing in 2018.

Tom loved his community and enjoyed being able to drive or walk-through town, and know who each person was. "Tom's passion for community led him to serve in various organization through the years. He was a Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township firefighter for 14 years and served-as fire chief for 4 1/2 years.

"Tom Smith, besides being a close, personal friend, was very committed to our community through his participation in service organizations and the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Fire Department," said retired BS-OT Fire Chief Bruce Stover. "Individuals like Tom Smith are the type of people who make living in a small town meaningful and rewarding.

"On a personal note, Tom encouraged me to join the fire department back in 1982, and after serving as his assistant chief for several years, he pushed me to apply to the chief’s position, which is one of the best decisions I ever made," Stover said. "He will be sorely missed for his commitment to the community and by all his firefighters, who all returned home safely under his guidance and tenure.

Tom also served on the Berrien Springs Village Council for six years, Board of Directors of the Berrien County Youth Fair Association from 1994 to 2003; and on the BCYF Fire Committee and other committees from 1988 to 2008; was member of the Friends for Berrien Springs and of the Berrien Springs American Legion, Post 85, holding numerous positions including; club finance officer, treasurer, and adjutant over the years. Manager Karen Klug praised Tom for his service to the youth of Berrien County through his work on the Fair Board.

"Tom always had the best interests of the youth of Berrien County at heart," said BCYF Manager Karen Klug. "He worked hard making updates to the buildings and grounds during his tenure on the board, and always fixed everything we broke with his welding skills. We will miss him; he was always happy to help."

"Tom is survived by his significant other of over twenty years, Marcia Wagner of Berrien Springs; children; Jennifer (Tom) Creek of Kalamazoo, Kimberly Atherton of Watervliet, David (Carolyn) Rygg of Sumnerville, Marcia Davis of Watervliet, Melissa (Darren) Jillson, Berrien Springs and Christopher (Jordan) Wagner of Berrien Springs; step-children, Michael (Rose) Wagner of Niles and Joyce (Todd) Banick of Kansas City, Kansas; fourteen grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren and sister, Elizabeth (Craig) Miller of Berrien Springs. He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Gladys Smith.

A celebration of life gathering will be held from 2-5 pm on Saturday, January 8, 2021 at the Berrien Springs American Legion, Post 85, 112 N. Bluff St., Berrien Springs. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Tom's name may be made to the Berrien Springs American Legion, Post 85. Arrangements have been entrusted Heritage Chapel, Berrien Springs. Those wishing to send a condolence online may do so at wwm.heritage-chapel.com.

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