Delbert (Del) F. Smith, age 85, passed away March 31, 2017, after a brief illness, with his family at his side. Del was born on December 17, 1931, in Sondheimer, Louisiana to Dalton and Bessie Smith. He married the love of his life, Joan Rambo, in 1957 and they recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Del served with distinction in the United States Air Force (USAF) for 20 years as a proud fighter pilot, flying F-105 Thunderchief fighter jets in 69 combat missions during the Vietnam War. He achieved the rank of Major and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his combat service to his country.
Upon his retirement from the USAF in 1970, he immediately jumped into the growing home-building market in Austin. He went on to establish his own custom home business, Del Smith Builder, in 1977, which he and Joan operated successfully until their retirement in 2002.
His greatest sources of pride were his sons and grandchildren. He enjoyed fishing, motorcycles, sports cars, planes and giving advice. He also loved to travel to visit his relatives on both sides of the family, and was blessed with a large extended family. Del developed many close friendships with his fellow pilots during his flying years and with his clients and business associates during his years as a home-builder. He was truly loved by his family and will be fondly remembered and greatly missed by both family and friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Claude and Dalton, and sister, Betty. Del is survived by his wife, Joan; sister, Lillian Dauzat; sons, Kevin (Beth) of Houston, Wayne (Belinda) of Lake Conroe, and Steven (Kathleen) of Austin; ten grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
He was active in the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association and the Austin Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
Visitation will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 7th at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home on North Lamar. Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 8th, in the Weed-Corley-Fish Chapel. Interment will follow at Austin Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, donations should be made in his honor to the Red River Valley Pilots Association Scholarship Program at www.river-rats.org/donations.html to support the children and spouses of fallen aviators.