Dellimer Curtis Smith
Dellimer “Dell” Smith, West Linn, died on December 11, 2022, surrounded by family at OHSU Trauma ICU in Portland, Oregon. He faced grave injuries sustained in a car accident with remarkable strength, love, and courage.
Dell was born in Pittsburgh, PA, and grew up in McKees Rocks, PA, the eldest of four sons born to Charles and Virginia Smith. Growing up, young Dell had a great exuberance for life, and he explored his world through work: beginning at age 13, as a pin-setter at the local bowling alley, through music: choral singing, high school competitive singing (in which he won a State-wide contest), and music education, and through sports: as a player (touch football, intramural basketball), and a fan (any Pittsburgh team from the Pirates to the Penguins). These interests all became life-long passions for Dell.
He graduated from Tarkio College in 1960, with a BA degree in Psychology. He attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for post-graduate studies. He married Jeanne Fullerton in 1960, moved to Oregon, and had 2 children: Julie and Jacob. This marriage ended in divorce, as did his second marriage to Sharon Blevins. He also built a family with Deb, and her daughter Teisha Helgerson.
In Oregon, Dell found his calling in social service through the War on Poverty. Over his 40-year career, he worked in, and directed, a variety of programs, and was best known for his stewardship of Clackamas County’s Employment Training & Business Services, and its many offshoots, including the Dispute Resolution Center. Dell was an enlightened leader, and beloved mentor to his staff. Thousands of people in Clackamas County may not have known him personally, but benefited from the work that he loved to do. He had a core belief that everyone was a pivotal and responsible member of the organization, and he created a work setting that was high functioning and enjoyable. Dell was driven to help the world be a better place, to see in action his belief in the ideals of justice, equity, truth, and fair play.
He was a founding member of the Oregon Employment & Training Association, in 1984, and served one year as president of that association. He held numerous other leadership positions regionally, and state-wide with an aim at ensuring a better way of working together so that public and human service goals could be truly effective and locally driven.
A high point of Dell’s work life was being invited to visit St. Petersburgh and Moscow in the 1990s during the early days of glasnost. Dell’s social intelligence as a leader: his warmth, smile, and charisma, served him well on these trips, transcending language and cultural barriers. Dell was honored to share methods and techniques for serving people going through massive employment transitions in this unique historical moment.
He had a beautiful tenor voice, and sang in the Portland Symphonic Choir, the West Linn Community Choir and barbershop quartet, and with Consonare Chorale in Portland.
An auto-enthusiast throughout his life, Dell enjoyed tinkering, collecting, and showing at the All-British Field Meets earning cherished ribbons and trophies. His favorite retirement hobby was spending time with his friends at the auto body shop, and eating lunch at the Linn City Pub, “where everybody knows your name”.
Dell’s family was of primary importance to him, and he loved to serve up big Thanksgiving dinners. He was a devoted friend who was always up for a game of pinochle or poker or cribbage — and Dell played to win.
Dell is survived by his life-partner Deb Helgerson; daughter Julie Smith and her partner Rodrigo Avila, Portland, OR; son Jacob Smith and his wife Lisa Yu, and grand-daughter Paloma Smith, Eugene, OR; his brothers: Gary and wife Carol Smith, Bellefonte, PA; Byron and wife Cathy Smith, Long Island, NY; Jan Smith, Pittsburgh, PA.
A tribute to Dell will be held Sunday, March 19. 2023 at 2 p.m. at: Oswego Hills Winery, 450 Rosemont Rd, West Linn. The family encourages you to practice a deliberate act of kindness, and donations in his memory are welcomed at: TeishasPlace.com.