Our friend Tombstone Drifter


This morning, around 3 AM our friend Gene Smith passed away after a strong and amazing full out battle against cancer.

I thought when I started this entry that perhaps I could, through simple words, give you all insight into the magnitude of Gene’s spirit.  Words, nah, Gene was larger than life, Gene WAS life.  Never have I met a man who lived more.  He would not give up, determined to survive, determined to not let go of his hold on his earthly life.

Until near the very end, he went into his gun shop in St Boniface nearly every day, even during his chemo, radiation and treatments.  And his friends responded, also going to the shop in droves, making sure that they could have moments with the friend they loved.

He loved being alive, his aptitude for life made us all live a little more fully.

Gene was involved in the out doors. From his early years, up north,in the woods and on the lakes  of northern Minnesota.  He spent time in Viet Nam, and in the last handful of years did a yearly trip to Indonesia, to travel the roads and highways there with his biking buddies from around the entire world.  I think going there was a way for him to regain some of the innocence of his youth that he lost during the war.  In Alaska he guided fishing parties to the hidden lakes of the state.  Here in Minnesota, he fished, hunted, biked with his buddies, encouraged music, encouraged laughter, belonged to the Old West Society.SASS, and I am sure organizations I have no knowledge of.

He went to places that meant a full gusto filled existence.  It is true that I am repeating myself a lot, when I talk about his joy of living, but good grief this man LIVED!!!!

We love Gene, we are sad that he is gone from us, and wish for his wife, Gretchen, a measure of solace, a measure of strength during this time.  She stood by him his constant help, his constant good spirit.  We love Gretchen and honor her.

So maybe Gene is now free from pain, tumors, and the ravages of age, and is even now wheeling his way along the highways of heaven, wind sunburning his face, astride a big old Harley.  He is fishing in pristine, cold, deep lakes, hunting in tall wooded mountains. We like to think that, and we smile.

3 thoughts on “Our friend Tombstone Drifter

  1. I moved here from Tejas a few years back and joined SASS. The first time I won anything in SASS was a brand new Bounty Hunter 12ga coach gun. Gene was there to help me with the paperwork. When I found out he had a gun shop, I was over there just about everyweek end. I bough my 12ga reloading press from his shop.
    I wished I had meet Gene along time ago. I wished we could have talked abit. When we shot the same matchs together, he would never forget to praise me on my shooting. It was like a pat on the back.

    1. Thank you for posting this. Gene was a good friend to many of us. It is good you had a chance to know him, he is missed. He somehow still seems here though, we can’t quite wrap our minds around him being gone, prefer to think he is off on an extended motorcycle/hunting trip!

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