Richard “Dick” Mansfield Smith Obituary
Richard “Dick” Mansfield Smith was born September 8, 1921 in Esmond, ND, near Leeds, to Mansfield Sherman and Mary Lucille (Hawkland) Smith. He passed away on Friday, March 29, 2013 at St. Francis Nursing Home in Breckenridge, MN. Visitation will be Friday, April 5 from 4-7 pm at St. John’s Catholic Church with a prayer service at 7 pm. A Catholic funeral will be celebrated at 2:30 pm on Saturday, April 6, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Wahpeton. Interment will be at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Breckenridge, MN at a later date. Attendees are encouraged to wear bright colors rather than customary black. In lieu of flowers or memorials, the family asks well-wishers to donate to a charity of their choosing or to assist someone in need.
Richard’s family moved several times before settling in Breckenridge, MN in 1937, where Richard played football, baseball and basketball, graduating in 1939. He was a member of the 1939 Cowboy’s basketball team which played in the Minnesota state tournament. He enrolled at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN that fall, where he was a member of the football and baseball teams. Richard enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the onset of World War II in December 1941. He captained a B-17 Bomber, “Destiny’s Tot”, completing 13 missions before his plane was shot down over France in December 1943. He escaped the damaged plane via parachute and the Nazis via the French Resistance to return to Allied territory by January 1944.
Richard served as a pilot for Eastern Airlines in New York City following his return to the US. He resumed his studies at Notre Dame after one year and graduated in 1947, the same year he married Patricia Evelyn Corcoran. They began married life in Doran, MN, where their first son was born, then settled in Campbell, MN, where two more children completed the family. Richard worked for his father’s company, the Kent-Doran Grain Co., while Patricia managed the household. Patricia passed away in a tragic car accident in 1953. Richard remarried in 1955 to Margaret D. Jones of Fargo, ND. He continued to work for and eventually owned the Kent-Doran Grain Co., which he sold in 1974.
Though officially retired, Richard lived a full life, dedicating himself to the Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society, of which he served as president for nearly 20 years, and the Otter Tail Lake Property Owners’ Association, of which he also served as president. He maintained his pilot’s license for decades, getting out of countless scapes with his faithful Mooney plane.
Richard was a devout, lifelong Catholic and attended mass regularly. Summers were spent at the “dream house” he helped build on Otter Tail Lake, and winters were spent in Manzanillo, Mexico or Palm Desert, CA. Nurturing his sense of adventure, Richard brought his family on international expeditions to Canada, Mexico, France, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, and Hong Kong. He was particularly honored to be received by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 1969. Richard and Margaret defined the term “golden years” through their countless social engagements, dinner parties, and cocktail hours with friends old and young. In May of 2010, they moved year-round into the Touchmark, formerly Waterford, in Fargo, where they enjoyed making new friends and renewing old acquaintances.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents and wives Patricia and Margaret (d. 2010). He is succeeded by his sister Marilou (Smith) Johnson of Minneapolis, MN; three children Kevin M. (Barbara) Smith of Denver, CO, Marcia L. (Dean) Abernethy of Atlanta, GA, and Richard E. T. (Ann) Smith of Wahpeton, ND; nine grandchildren Kevin D. Abernethy of Atlanta, GA, Patrick M. (Erin) Abernethy of Atlanta, GA, Anne M. Abernethy of Tucson, AZ, Jonathan M. Smith of Phoenix, AZ, Lauren S. Smith of Denver, CO, Kelly C. Smith of Denver, CO, Kathleen S. Smith of Fargo, ND, Kierann E. (Smith) (Jason) Toth of Rhinebeck, NY, and Conor H. M. Smith of Fargo, ND; and one great-grandson William M. Abernethy of Atlanta, GA. He will be sorely missed by countless nieces, nephews, neighbors, friends, relatives, and the distillers of Johnny Walker blended scotch.