Clifford Leland Smith passed away May 24, 2010 in Sheridan, Wyoming, a sad day for his family and friends. Eighty-one years earlier, August 28, 1928 was a joyous one, on the other hand, for Paul and Virginia (Linn) Smith as they welcomed their first-born son in to this world at the very same hospital.
Cliff spent his entire life in Wyoming, within a 70 mile radius of his birthplace. Most of those years were spent in the Spotted Horse area. He was schooled at country schools, as well as high school in Gillette. In the early years, he rode his horse to the school house at Spotted Horse. In high school, he found he had a talent for shooting pool, which sometimes proved to be a distraction and affected his attendance at more structured schooling. Over the years, Cliff worked as a ranch hand for family and neighbors. The Korea Conflict saw him in action on the front lines, an experience for which he received the Purple Heart and which stayed with him for the remainder of his life, though he rarely spoke of it until later years.
In 1954, Cliff married Kathleen Michelena and settled down with her at Spotted Horse, working for his father and starting a family. In 1961, he moved the family to Buffalo and began a partnership with Jean Michelena in the Keaheys Standard station there. However, as the saying goes, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy; this could not have been truer for anyone than it was for Clifford Smith. In the fall of 1964, Cliff moved back to the Spotted Horse area, working for Russell Kavka and also running some of his own cows. In 1971, he leased the Kennedy ranch until he took over ranching what had been his father’s ranch and his home as a child in 1977. He remained there until he retired in 1993, when he moved to Sheridan, enjoying life there until his death.
Clifford loved life in the country. He took a lot of pride in hard work and good living. He came from a family with deep musical roots, which fueled his love of music, including teaching himself to play the guitar and listening to Earnest Tubb and Ray Price. He enjoyed his family, which includes four children, Sandra Speck & husband John of Pocatello, Idaho, Joseph (Jody) of Casper, Wyoming, Dale & wife Marie of Scandia, Minnesota, and Jerry of Sheridan, Wyoming, as well as 6 grandchildren Janelle Smith Ramirez, Sarah & Zachary Gooding, Hamp & Cassie Smith and Nathan Speck. He is also survived by one sister, Jean Samsel. He was preceded in death by two siblings, Harold and Maxine.
Graveside service will be 11:00am on Saturday (May 29th) in Willow Grove Cemetery, Buffalo, WY with Robert Spellman officiating. Military rites are by the American Legion and Wyoming National Guard. Arrangements are with Champion Ferries Funeral Home.