Remembering Bill Smith, Jr. (1924-2013)
Feb. 22, 2013
William Melvin Smith, Jr. of Kaneohe, Hawaii passed away on February 8, 2013, surrounded by his family at 88 years old. He was born in Honolulu on May 16, 1924, the son of William Smith and Rena Kealoha.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Moana Riley Smith, daughters Billi Smith (Scott Topp), Maureen Smith, sons Riley (Nancy) Smith and Kimo (Kapu) Smith, sister Leila Davenport, half-sisters
When Bill was seven years old (1931), he contracted spinal meningitis. His mother, being a devout Mormon, asked the Church Elders to administer their prayers and healing practices (ordinances). He slowly regained use of his legs after repeated sessions with his dad taking him to the Waikiki Natatorium and Sans Souci beach for therapy. His dad would massage and exercise his legs, bury him in
When Bill was thirteen years old (1937), he attended St. Louis High School and later graduated from Baldwin Memorial High School. He first swam for Hui Makani Swim club coached by Harvey Chilton and
He spent two years in the United States Navy, between 1943 and 1945, during World War II. After the service, he returned to Ohio State University and graduated in 1950. Upon his return to Honolulu, he worked for the City and County of Honolulu, as Water Safety Director, for over thirty years. During his tenure, the lifeguard service grew from six lifeguards on the beaches in Waikiki, to over 300 guards protecting the public at the many beaches throughout the entire island of Oahu. He was particularly proud of hiring the uniquely skilled watermen at the dangerous beaches at Makaha, Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay.
These brave men were willing to risk their lives to save others and make beaches safer. During his career, he embarked on his lifelong passion of teaching the youth of Hawaii to set high goals and learn that anything is possible; traits he learned under Coach Sakamoto and the Three Year Swimming Club. He coached swimmers at Kaneohe Bay Swim Club and for twenty five years at Kamehameha Swim Club. His swimmers learned discipline, sacrifice and that with hard work, comes many rewards. He was especially proud that these skills transferred to their adult lives, as they started their families and entered the work force.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at St. Ann’s Church (Kaneohe), with visitation at 10:00 AM, services at 11:00 AM and reception to follow. Inurnment of his ashes will be at a later date.