Walter (Walt) Bruning Smith, the “Chief”, died at home in Boynton Beach, Florida on October 8, 2019 at the age of 88 years old; he was surrounded by his family and loved ones in his final moments content in the knowledge that he lived a full, love filled, and rewarding life.
Walter was born on January 26, 1931 in Livingston, NJ to Jansje Bruning Smith and Walter Lloyd Smith. He grew up surrounded by love and a fair number of escapades with his sister Wilma and brother Greg while living in Mendham, NJ. He contracted polio when he was 9 years old and fought back against the disease defying the odds and recovering his ability to breath and walk.
He attended Morristown High School where he was well known for his pranks, hot rod cars and hunting and fishing (sometimes during the school day!) Shortly after school, while working his first job, he reconnected with a high school classmate Mary Ann King – he convinced her to marry him after a long and steady campaign to win her over - it was the joy of his life that his Mary Ann chose him. They were married and deeply in love for over 60 years raising two daughters Kathy and Janet – above all else Walt loved his “three girls” and always put them and his two grandchildren Sean and Ashlyn first.
Walt was the youngest chief of police in the state of NJ serving as the Police Chief of Mendham, NJ for several years after he and Mary Ann were married. Upon having children, Walter changed careers and became a sales executive first at McWilliams Forge and later at Crucible, a Colt Company.
Through it all, Walt was an avid outdoors man and loving Father. He had boats, hunting dogs, gardens, and endless adventures near and far all revolving around being in the great outdoors and many while dragging two reluctant daughters along with him. During retirement he was part of a group of fishermen who fished out of Lewes, Delaware weekly and it was the joy of his life when Roy Schijns, his son in law, or Stephen Fischer his nephew went fishing with him as he thought of them both as the sons he never had.
Upon moving to NJ and ultimately to Florida to be with his daughter Janet and her family, he continued to visit the ocean, inter coastal and lakes whenever possible. He was a proud Grandfather who love to regal others with stories of his grandchildren and their exploits. He was never happier than when he got to spend time celebrating a holiday or just having a meal with them. Above all else, Walter loved his daughter Janet – to the end he held dear that she was his favorite person in the world and wanted everyone to know that he was Janet Schijns’ Dad. His daughter and her entire family deeply mourn his passing and will miss their time together for the remainder of their days.
Walter is survived by his daughter Janet and husband Roy Schijns; grandchildren Sean Reardon and Ashlyn Szilva; honorary daughter June Gabel and husband Bob and two children Justin and Brenden, brother Gregory Smith and companion Barbara; nephew Stephen Fisher and wife Sherry, brother in law Joseph Robert King, sister in law Terry King, niece and nephew Terry Zimmerman King and James King JR., and his loving dog Krissy who served as his constant and loyal companion to the end.
Walter was predeceased by his wife Mary Ann (King) Smith, daughter Kathleen Smith, parents Walter Lloyd and Janjse Smith, sister Wilma (Smith) Fischer and husband Bert, Shirley Smith, his brother in law James King Sr. and his beloved dogs Jingles, Sammy and Charlie.
Memorial services will be held at a later date in accordance with his wishes.
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