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Long-time Evanston resident dies

Francis G. Smith, 92, a retired school teacher and long-time resident of Evanston, has died.

Mr. Smith, a teacher for 32 years in Skokie School District 68, died of natural causes on Tuesday at his home in Mt. Prospect, said his wife, Rita. He had been in poor health for several years.

Mr. Smith started his teaching career at Sharp Corners School in Skokie in 1954 and transferred to Old Orchard Junior High School when it opened. He taught there until his retirement in 1986.

For much of his career he taught typing to as many as 500 eighth grade students each year. He also taught shop, science and math classes.

Mrs. Smith says that even years after his retirement former students would approach them and fondly recall their typing classes.

He was also known for the extensive collection of plants he maintained on the windowsills of his classroom.

Mr. Smith, born June 5, 1916, in Shumway, Ill., moved to Evanston with his family in 1920. He attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and Evanston Township High School and graduated from Northwestern University in 1941 with a bachelor’s degree in commerce.

He served in the U.S. Army in World War II and studied under the GI bill to earn a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago in 1951.

Before beginning his career as a teacher, he worked as an industrial engineer for Marshall Fields, Replogle Globe, Goodwill Industries and Bell & Howell.

Mr. Smith met his wife, the former Rita M. Smillie, when they were introduced by her older sister Bernice, a nurse in the Evanston office of the Smiths’ family doctor. Their first date was at Rita’s graduation prom at the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in 1941.

They were married on May 12, 1945, at St. Mary’s in Evanston.

Mr. Smith was active as a Boy Scout leader at St. Nicholas Church in Evanston when their sons were in Scouting.

He also served as a board member in River Trails School District 26 in Mt. Prospect in the 1970s and served as a communion minister at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights for many years. He was a parishioner of St. Thomas Becket Church in Mt. Prospect.

An avid home handyman, he and his wife extensively improved the home they purchased in Evanston in 1954 and spent many summer months at their cottage near Michigamme, Mich., making improvements there.

Survivors include their two sons, William E. Smith of Evanston, the publisher of Evanston Now, and James P. Smith of Bayshore, N.Y., the library director at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.

The family plans to hold a memorial service in June.

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