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Johnny L. Smith

John “Johnny” L. Smith, 66, of Ft. Pierre, SD, died Saturday, May 7, 2011 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre.

On May 7, 2011, Johnny Smith’s trail of life led him to heaven where he joined the cowboy greats that have passed before him.

John L. Smith was born on July 3, 1944 in Presho, SD to True and Wilma (Scott) Smith. He attended grade school at the Consolidated Country School south of Fort Pierre. He attended Pierre Riggs High and graduated in 1962. After graduation Johnny attended South Dakota State University until the time he went to the Fort Smith Arkansas Auctioneer School. He served as a member of the South Dakota National Guard from 1966-1972.

In 1967 he married Janice Gray. He went to work for Leif Hanson at Fort Pierre Livestock Auction. He then partnered with Jess Shaull, Nathan Shaull, and Hoss Roseland at the Highmore Sale Barn, returning to the Fort Pierre Livestock Auction in 1984, where he remained until his death.

He took special interest in announcing any events he could, you could recognize his voice over the speakers at many 4-H rodeos, Casey Tibbs Match of Champions, Horse Races, Benefit Auctions, 4th of July rodeos and parades, as well at the Sale Barn doing what he loved best. He could be heard every Saturday morning on the radio with the cattle report and of course his support of the agricultural world. Deemed “Mr. Fort Pierre” by Bernie Hunhoff in the South Dakota Magazine, Johnny’s accomplishments and involvement in the livestock world were endless. He was an instrumental founder for R-CALF and was still a board member at the time of his death. One of his greatest achievements was the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center, serving as proud board member there as well.

Known as Johnny Claus to many children, Christmas was one of his favorite times of the year. Anywhere from shopping at all hours of the night to stringing Christmas lights with the help of his recruits, he enjoyed it all. You didn’t have to be family to get a gift, as he supplied presents to children who may have otherwise not had a Christmas.

He was president of the South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association from 1996-1998. In 1999 he was honored by the Black Hills Angus Association as Angus promoter. R-CALF honored him for outstanding Service and support of the U.S. Cattle Industry in 2006. He received the SDSU Friend of the Beef Industry Award in 2006, was inducted into the Casey Tibbs Hall of Fame in 2010 as Rodeo promoter; he was also honored for his 36 years of announcing the 4th of July Rodeo in 2010. While these were only a few of many, he was an honored ambassador for the cattle industry logging many miles from coast to coast. He will always be honored as the world’s greatest uncle and grandpa.

Johnny is survived by his mother Wilma Smith of Fort Pierre; sister Patsy Aiken of Spearfish, SD; brothers: Larry (Mona) Smith of Fort Pierre, Cody (Sarah) Smith of Fort Pierre, and Ben (Wendy) Smith of Pierre, SD; nieces and nephews: Tanner and Tessa Aiken; Sarah, Taylor and Nicole Smith; Casey (Monica) Smith and Amanda (AJ) Stoeser; Jessica, Baillie, and Maddie Smith; His loving partner Sherri Reitz of Fort Pierre and her children: Jason (Nicole) Reitz of Rapid City, Michael (Wendy) Reitz of Brookings, SD and Mandi (Bill) Trebbe of Rapid City; grandchildren: Sheldon and Kaiden Reitz; Peyton, Kolton, Carson, Jordyn Reitz; Justin Trebbe; Janice Smith; brother-in-law, Steve (Beth) Gray; and nieces and nephews: Cory Gray, Jaydeen Fish, Aarik Gray, Zade Gray, Brogan Gray, Dawn Hrncir, Jeff Hrncir and Matthew Hrncir.

He is preceded death by his father True Smith, sister Trudy Smith, and paternal and maternal grandparents.

Memorials can be directed to the Pierre Kidney Dialysis Unit and the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center to commission a bronze statue of Billy Etbauer and the great horse Painted Valley.


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