Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Leslie James Smith
We recently returned from a trip to San Diego. Lee grew up in San Diego and is was great to visit his family that is still there. The reason for the visit was a sad one, however. Lee's father passed away while living in Montana and all the family members that could, united to take his ashes to rest beside his wife, Shirley.
Lee gave a great eulogy and told us all about Jim's life. There were many stories that I had never heard. He married right out of high school and went in the Army during World War II. He served in England, Scotland, India and China. His discharge papers indicate the following campaigns and battles: Normandy; Northern France; Central Europe; China Defensive and China Offensive.
After the war he did many things. He was a design Draftsman at Convair. He had a Jack In The Box restaurant for a time. But most of his life he worked for Orowheat Bakery ( known as Arnold on the East Coast ) on a bread truck. He loved that job. He loved going to grocery stores until he was no longer able and would tell stories about his ability as a Top Salesman in the company.
Jim met his wife, Shirley Wicklander, in high school in Michigan where they were both born. They moved to San Diego in 1955 when Lee was eight. They moved there on the day I was born in Pasadena, so maybe it was fate! They were married for 41 years, until Shirley's death in 1985.
Jim spent the last 5 years in Montana, close to Lee's sister. She visited him frequently and I think she was glad to have that time after she had lived so far away from him during most of her adult life. Her son Jason was able to come for the service and we were happy to see him again.
All our kids were able to come. Trista came the farthest distance. She lives with her husband in Nottingham in the UK. Tara had the next longest trip and Travis came from Northern California. As frequently happens with air travel, his trip was ALMOST as long as Tara's.
Lee's aunt Marilyn also joined us, along with his cousins', Cyndi and Deanna and their husbands'.
While in San Diego we took advantage of the visit to eat lunch at the famous Hotel Del Coronado. Delicious and gorgeous.
The kids and I went to Balboa Park for a day (www.balboapark.org ). I had only ever been to the San Diego Zoo ( www.sandiegozoo.org ), easily the best zoo in the world. The kids (can you call them kids any more?) and I have gone to the zoo many times before and we chose to see some of the other attractions there. These were free and so wonderful.
I don't ever want to live in a big city again, but the weather and easy access to so many wonderful museums and educational offerings could convince me to move to San Diego. It would be worth weekly visits and a fabulous place to take small children.
It was the first time we had all been together in so long. I really enjoyed that. On the other hand, it was for such a sad purpose. So if you ask me if I had a good trip, I would have to say, yes. Even though it was for a sad reason, I was touched by all the people that came to honor Jim and his life. I imagine Jim and Shirley smiling down at the family and being proud they left such a legacy of family and love. And that makes it a great trip.