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glad expectancy: Robert White Smartt Jr. (1921-2009)
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Bob Smartt was a dear old Southern gentleman who used to chat with me during coffee hours about gardening and juggling multiple religious affiliations (he and his wife, Joan, were members of St. Ann's Episcopal as well as First UU). He died last Thursday of cancer, and his funeral was in McMinnville (90 miles southeast of Nashville) this afternoon.

Bob had been a civil engineer, and he enjoyed making things; in tribute to that, the niece who delivered the eulogy (Mary Evins Overton, whom another niece later told me is the family historian) had placed a woodworking plane in front of the lectern. As she put it, another kind of plane also figured prominently in Bob's life: during World War II, he completed 35 missions as a bomber pilot with the 8th US Army Air Corps; the closing hymn of the service was The Air Force Song.

Family members also reminisced about Bob's love of food (another niece: "The man could EAT!"), fear of snakes, devotion to family (and, prior to his fifty-one year marriage, his girlfriends in multiple ports), ever-present optimism (even after his then-fifteen-year-old son put "a crater" in the side of the family car), and ever-present will-fix-it-ness (attacking said crater with mallet and without recriminations).

Joan and I talked afterwards about his wrangling with wisteria and his exchanges with his daughter (a horticulturist) over some problem where she'd advised him to uproot the mess:

Me: And did he?
Joan: Oh, heavens, no. That man never did anything he didn't already have a mind to!

Mary Overton used the phrase "glad expectancy" to sum up Bob's attitude toward life, up until the end. That's such a lovely phrase, and it goes so well with my memories of Bob: tall, twinkle-eyed, and talking about impatiens and irrigation.

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