February 21, 1925–December 20, 2019
Lehrling Odel Smith, 94, on December 20, 2019, the world lost an intelligent, ethical, resourceful, patient, and proud man. When Lehrling Odel Smith joined God in heaven.
Born in Vandervoort, Arkansas, on February 21, 1925, to parents Grady and Frances Smith, Lehrling quickly made his mark on the world.
Lehrling’s family moved from Vandervoort to an Oklahoma ranch in an area called Hudson where they raised and sold cattle. Lehrling's dad had sustained an injury while fighting in WWl, making physical labor difficult. Therefore, he asked his 10-year-old son to begin running the ranch, and Lehrling did, becoming his "dad's hands" and making better business decisions than his father. Clearly, Lehrling became a man at a young age, causing him to become fiercely independent. The skills he learned on the ranch served him well throughout his life, giving him the confidence and wisdom to face any situation with dignity and grace.
Lehrling's parents helped him become a life-long learner because they taught him the importance of education at an early age. Because they lived in an isolated area, they hired tutors for their sons and eventually built a school house for all community children. Lehrling was so advanced that he finished some grades early, so he taught the younger children. He could do anything, and his family called him a real-life MacGyver.
In order to finish his high school degree, he had to take correspondence classes. Unfortunately, he could not finish his courses because the U.S. Marines drafted him during WW ll, and he served in the South Pacific.
After his stint in the Marines, he returned home and met the love of his life, Maxine Roberts. They married on October 9, 1947, and lived in Oklahoma with their three children until moving to Sweet Home, Oregon, in 1957 for a "temporary stay." However, they loved Oregon, and Lebanon became their permanent home in 1960.
Lehrling worked at Cascade Plywood before becoming the circulation manager in Lebanon for the Albany Democrat Herald. A multi-talented and patient man, he also became a gunsmith, able to fix guns even if customers brought him parts in a bag. He also worked for Commodore Homes, then U.S. Plywood before retiring.
Retirement gave him more time to be in his beloved nature. An excellent gardener, he grew delicious vegetables as well as beautiful flowers. While working outdoors, he loved watching birds and animals, slowly gaining their confidence so he could approach them. Eventually, birds would eat out of his hands. Lehrling loved fishing, camping, hunting, and other outdoor sports.
Above all, Lehrling was a Christian who walked with Christ, living a moral, ethical life, serving as an excellent model for his family, friends, and co-workers. He described God as a supreme being, the only life there is.
Lehrling cherished his family and is survived by his wife, Maxine; brother, Paul and his wife, Ozie; children, Keith Smith and his wife Patsy; Regina Wilson and her husband Steve; Connie Spier and her husband Roger; grandchildren, Liv Cordle, Angie Spier, Allison Smith, Brandon Wilson, Brady Spier, and Nickolas Smith; ten great-grandchildren; and three great- great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Serenity Hospice at 6444 Fairway Avenue SE, Salem, Oregon, or to the Alzheimer's Association.