George Smith: 1924-2017
George was born February 16, 1924 in Philip at Dr. Ramsey’s house along the Bad River to parents Morgan Smith and Vera M. (Ernest) Smith. He grew up and resided on the south side of the Cheyenne River on the Smith Ranch purchased in 1918 from Charles and Ortha Haxby.
George first attended school right at the family ranch in a school house built from two log cabins that were originally occupied by Chief Touch the Cloud and Chief Council Bear, whose namesakes to the creeks that confluence on the Smith Ranch near its original headquarters. This was the Smith School from 1931-1932; students were George and Deuane Smith Vern Hulett, Elaine, Lorraine and Miles Van Cleave. Second grade he attended Long Fellow School in Sioux City, Iowa. Riverview School in the Cheyenne River Breaks would be his last country school from third to eighth grade. George and his two siblings, Deuane and Vespersia, all graduated from the eighth grade together.
George attended Philip High School; his was an avid athlete playing football, basketball and running track. Track and field is where he shined; he competed in both the high and low hurdles and held records at Philip High School for many years. In 1941, he placed second in the high hurdles and the state track meet in Huron despite slipping to the ground on a wet track.
George attended Black Hills State College from the fall of 1942 to spring of 1943, lettering in football and is a lifetime member of the Black Hills Letterman’s Club.
After college, George returned back the family ranch to help his dad as his brother Deaune entered the army. George’s father, Morgan, died in a car accident in 1958 George took over the ranch management at that time.
George started rodeoing in the 1940s, eventually winning first places in saddle bronc riding at the Faith Stock Show and Rodeo, but he also was good calf roper and horse breaker. He broke many horses for people, including Alvin Anderson of Faith. He also was the key organizer for the Indian Springs Roping Club, building a roping arena up near the present day Smith Ranch headquarters. George loved dancing and always said he was a natural bronc rider because he had good rhythm. Even some of George’s favorite saddle horses he raised, went on to compete in the National Finals Rodeo as rough stock, such as Untouchable and Bridger.
George served on the Cheyenne School District Board in the early 1960s.
An honor to George was being formally inducted to the Cheyenne Sioux Tribe at the Bridger Village and given the Sioux Indian name of George Two Moons. He would always great people on the phone by saying How Kola, “hello my friend”.
George was an avid reader right up to his last day. He would read his Pro Rodeo Sports news cover to cover along with the Tristate Livestock news or and agriculture publication. He also enjoyed watching sports, especially college basketball and his favorite Kansas Jayhawks or NFL and the Green Bay Packers.
The highlight of George’s life and passion was his ranching career, the quality and the condition of the cattle and horses he raised and cared for caring the Quarter Circle Diamond Dot Brand (one of the oldest registered brands in South Dakota). He took great pride in his livestock that wore the brand, especially those that sold at the Fort Pierre Livestock Auction. George was one of The Hanson’s oldest active customers.
There was no better cattleman or horseman that God could in trust with care of his livestock.
George married Loretta Elaine (Sorum) Smith on January 11, 1964, at Philip at the First Presbyterian Church. To this union he was blessed with one daughter, Kristine. H. Smith.
Survivors include his only daughter, Kristine Helen Smith of Milesville; a sister, Vespersia Pennington of Gardner, Kan.; nephews, Arthur Smith of Hot Springs, Jay (Mary) Smith of Hermosa, Layton Pennington of Grayslake, Ill., Cevey (Ashley) Pennington of Kiowa, Colo., and Austin (Karen) Pennington of Gardner, Kan.; a brother-in-law, John Sorum of Canton; and numerous nieces and nephews.
George was preceded in death by his wife, Loretta Smith, on July 23, 2007; his parents, Morgan and Vera (Ernest) Smith; brother, Deaune Smith; brothers-in-law, Albert A. Pennington and Robert Sorum; sisters-in-law, Louise Sorum and Opal (Pattinson) Smith; and nephew and niece, Ernest Morgan Smith and Lynn D. Bertrand.
Visitation will be held two hours prior to the service at the American Legion Hall in Philip.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at the American Legion Hall in Philip, with Pastor Kathy Chesney officiating.
Interment will be at the Masonic Cemetery in Philip.