Walter Deane Smith (August 12, 1927 — August 18, 2018)
Walter Deane Smith, who was born to Walter Deane and Lucille Smith in Denver, Colorado, was the musical light in our lives and an amazing father to four daughters as well as loving husband to his beautiful wife Carol. He started playing classical music when he was seven years old and turned to jazz in his late teens. While many musicians were off fighting WWII, Walt filled in for them in several Denver jazz clubs, and that’s when he truly fell in love with jazz.
A happenstance blind date brought him and the girl of his dreams together. Walt and Carol began enjoying life together by spending summers in Grand Lake, and then moved to Aspen in 1954. They raised their daughters in Aspen until moving to Basalt in 1966, and then to Grand Junction in 1978.
Music was Walt’s life. He played the Monterey Jazz Festival and wrote the music for Leon Uris’ “ARI” which was performed in NYC. Regularly playing gigs from Denver to Vail to Aspen to Grand Junction, he loved any kind of venue as long as he could share his gift. In his lifetime Walt played with many musicians, some famous, all who enjoyed the opportunity to improvise and have fun!
Out from behind the piano, Walt loved living in the mountains and always found family time for skiing, sailing, tennis, camping and hiking. There were many “Smith Family Vacations” in Mexico, Costa Rica and Florida. And Walt and Carol were well-known and loved in a community that stretched the length of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers from Aspen to Grand Junction and beyond.
Left to cherish his memory are his daughters, Kris Smith of Grand Junction, Leslie Newbury of Basalt, Diana Rexach of Grand Junction, and Lisa (& Ken) Follett of Grand Junction; as well as four grandchildren, Lukas, Ali, Jessi and Lauren. He is preceded in death by his wonderful wife, Carol; his parents; his grandson Erik Newbury; and sister and brother-in-law Joanne and Bob Odell.
Walt will always be known as the one and only original Swing Daddy. This man’s sweetness and music will be remembered always! With a smile always on his face, it is no wonder the song “SMILE” was his theme song.
A celebration of love, life and memories will be held on September 8, 2018, at Two Rivers Winery and Chateau, 2087 Broadway at 1:00 p.m. in Grand Junction. A musical tribute will be held in the Roaring Fork Valley at a later date.
Memorial donations may be made to Hope West Hospice Care, 3090 N. 12th Street #B, Grand Junction, 81506 or to the Erik Newbury Scholarship Fund, c/o Leslie Newbury, P.O. Box 3982, Basalt 81621.