Landscapes 17

John A. Smetana

September 21, 1929 ~ November 19, 2020 (age 91)


John Albert “Idaho Jack” Smetana, 91, Moscow, left us to be with our Lord and his heavenly family on Nov.19, 2020. 

He was born on September 21, 1929 in Baltimore, MD to Joseph A. and Marie A Smetana (nee. Wanicek).  He was the youngest of three children.  He attended school in Overlea, Maryland and the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, in the Advanced College Preparatory program for Engineering.  He excelled in the classroom and on the diamond. For several summers he played semipro baseball with his brother. In 1947, he left for North Carolina State University and received his BS in Mechanical Engineering. It was during his high school years that he met his future wife, Mary Francis Leppert.  They were married on Aug 12, 1950, and following their reception, they packed their belongings and honeymooned as they headed west to Pullman, WA.  They also lived in CA and NM, with a short stay back in Baltimore before returning to the Palouse. He then began his long career as a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Washington State University and taught there until his retirement in 1981.  In 1963, Jack, Mary and their 4 oldest children spent a year back in Baltimore, living directly across from Mary’s childhood home. During that time, he was on sabbatical leave from WSU and worked for the National Science Foundation Grant Program in Washington D.C.  In the Moscow mountains, they purchased the “Timber Isle” ranch and built their home.  Mary and Jack raised their five children there and he shared with them his love of the outdoors, camping, sports, and the value of hard work. The family raised livestock with all five children participating in the 4-H program.   He was a Scout leader for the boys growing up and even umpired a few American Legion baseball games the boys played in. After the kids were grown, Jack and Mary enjoyed traveling throughout the Northwest, spending time in Washington, Montana, and Canada. Dad loved living at the ranch and spent many relaxing hours sitting at the kitchen window and taking in the beautiful views and playful squirrels running around trying to eat from the bird feeders. Jack was a loving husband, father and a mentor to many of the students he taught. He will be greatly missed by all of us and he is truly happy to be reunited with Mom.

Jack is survived by his 5 children: Mike (Cindie) of Longview, WA, Jack (Candy) of Coeur d’Alene, ID, Bruce (Rose) of Colton, WA, Paul (Shelley) of Helena, MT and Nancy Flisher (Chip) of Moscow, 16 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.  Jack was predeceased by his loving wife, Mary, parents, Joseph and Marie, his brother Robert, sister Phyllis and grandson, David.  

Shorts Funeral Home (Moscow) is in charge of arrangements. Due to COVID 19 restrictions, there will be a private service, immediate family only, at the Moscow Cemetery, Nov 28th. We hope to plan a celebration of life in the Spring/Summer of 2021.

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