Mr. Robert Anthony Smith, 79, of Wheeler Street, Canajoharie, New York, died peacefully at home on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, following a battle with cancer. Born on June 3, 1933, in Amsterdam, New York, he was the second son of the late Joseph and Joan Drew Smith.
A lifelong area resident, Bob was a 1951 graduate of St. Mary's Institute. He was one of twelve students in his graduating class that attended St. Mary's for all 12 years of instruction. Robert matriculated at SUNY Albany and SUNY Potsdam, where he received his master's in education. While his focus was on social sciences, he also was well versed in world history and language arts. Upon graduation, Bob embarked on a 35-year career in the Canajoharie Central School District. He was drafted and spent two years in the United States Army teaching radar system repair and maintenance at Red Stone Arsenal. Upon his discharge, he made the decision to become fully immersed in the community and moved from Amsterdam to Canajoharie.
When the junior high school opened in 1960, Bob was appointed its first administrator; however, his excitement for the curriculum and love of teaching caused him to decline a future in administration and return to the classroom. The junior high school has now evolved into the present-day middle school. He was instrumental in establishing the junior high school student council, the junior high honor society, and the Yorkers Club. Bob expanded the eighth-grade curriculum by adding a career awareness program which empowered eighth-graders to choose a more appropriate high school academic path to achieve career goals. Extracurricularly, Bob was active in the teacher's union, was a modified basketball coach, was a Nellis pool supervision, served as president of the PTA, and kept score books for the school's baseball, basketball and football programs.
Bob was involved in the community, being a member of the Fort Rensselaer Club for over 20 years and serving on the Canajoharie-Palatine-Root Community Chest. He was also a devout Catholic, serving on the Parish Council of St. Peter's & Paul's Church for 15 years and well as being a lector and Eucharistic minister.
Following retirement from permanent teaching, Bob became a substitute teacher. His enthusiasm for sports led him to a second career as a sports journalist for local papers including the Courier-Standard-Enterprise, The Recorder and The Leader-Herald. He was an avid golfer and organized many senior golfing activities at the Canajoharie County Club. For many years he authored a newspaper column titled "On and Off the Tee." He certainly will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Survivors include his wife, Norma Jean Smith; one daughter, Polly Jane Smith-Thomas and her husband; two sons, Mark Smith and Sgt. Major David Smith and his wife, Brooke; one brother, Wayne Smith and his wife Dorothy; his granddaughters, Hannah, Yurina, Ami, Lindsey and Abby; and his grandsons, Alex, Robert and Todd.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered on Monday, May 6, 2013, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church, 115 Reid Street, Fort Plain, NY, with the Rev. Dennis Murphy as celebrant. Interment will take place in St. Mary's Cemetery, Fort Johnson, N.Y., with military honors. Relatives and friends are invited and may call on Sunday, May 5, 2013, from 2 until 5p.m. at the Lenz & Betz Funeral Home, 69 Otsego Street, Canajoharie, N.Y. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Canajoharie Central School Athletics, c/o The Superintendent's Office, 136 Scholastic Way, Canajoharie, NY 13317. Please visit the guestbook online at www.brbsfuneral.com.