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John W. Smith

John W. Smith
John W. Smith

Eminent Farmer

County: McCook

Close ties to family, church, and community have keynoted the life of John W. Smith, lifelong McCook County farmer.

Smith graduated from Montrose High School in the class of 1932 and attended what was then South Dakota State College at Brookings for one year in 1935.

Smith started farming in 1937 in a partnership with his father. By 1984, the operation had grown from its original 400 acres to 2,600 acres--about half in grass and half being farmed. It continues to be a general grain and livestock operation with heavy emphasis on livestock. Crop enterprises include corn, oats, barley, soybeans, and alfalfa. Livestock enterprises include the beef cattle herd, a farrow-to-finish hog operation, and Holstein heifers.

In 1941, he married his wife, Florence. She had been a home economics teacher prior to marriage. The couple then raised a family of five children, and each, in turn, chose to make their careers and home in the immediate area. Long active in local, regional and state agricultural affairs, Smith has established a long list of public service activities.

He was a school board member from 1946 to 1967, having served as president for much of that time, and he was deeply involved in consolidation of local school districts in 1966 and 1967.

He spent another 20 years as a member and president of the McCook County Extension Board. He also served on the first McCook County Zoning Board. A 40-year member of the Montrose Masonic Lodge, he also served as Master there for seven years. He lists memberships in the Montrose Lions Club and the Montrose Booster Club, and he played a key role in building the local swimming pool. Vitally interested in youth, he started the East Vermillion 4-H club in 1954 and served as 4-H leader for 18 years.

He is a member of South Dakota Pork Producers and the South Dakota Livestock Association, and he was named South Dakota Master Pork Producer in 1980. He also was honored as a Pioneer Shipper by the Sioux Falls Stockyards and further honored by the McCook County Soil Conservation Service for his soil stewardship. He is an active member of his Methodist Church, having held several positions on the church administrative board.

In the words of his son, Paul, "Ever since I can remember, Dad has been involved with the community and church. He has always been respected for his opinions and is looked to for leadership and advice."