Harold Chester Smith

Harold Chester Smith was born in Etna, Utah, on July 25, 1908, a son of Henry Leroy and Mabel Belle Herrington Smith. He was the oldest of one brother, Ervin, four sisters, Margaret, Mabel, Maxine, Mildred, and two half sisters, Eunice and Cora.

Some of his early years were spent in Lucin, Utah, Montello, Nevada and Burley, Idaho. From the time that he was big enough to work at something, he had a job, so from age twelve he was able to purchase all of his own clothes.

When he was fourteen, he drove a taxi cab in Ogden for the company his dad and Uncle Earl Herrington started, which was later sold and became known as the Yellow Cab Company.

In Arizona at age eighteen he had already picked cotton and was a diesel engineer on a dam near Phoenix, but the heat caused health problems, so the whole family returned to northern Utah.

While recovering, he rode horseback over the mountains of northwest Utah, northeast Nevada, carrying supplies to the various sheep herders employed by his Uncle Marshall Herrington. At this time he bought himself a banjo.

By age twenty-one he was a telegrapher for the Southern Pacific Railroad (Ogden to California) and owned his first car, which his family freely used.

At almost age twenty-three Harold married LaRetta Wakefield in Elko, Nevada, on March 2, 1931. The marriage was solemnized in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple on August 23, 1962.

On January 16, 1932 their daughter, Shirley Rae, was born in Ogden, Utah. This was during that time known as the “Great Depression.”

Job insecurities brought about conditions where Harold, his brother Ervin, and their dad, Henry became traveling farmhands.

Later he became an employee of the U.S. Department of Interior on the Western Shoshone Indian Reservation, Owyhee, Nevada, where he held positions dealing with projects, equipment and purchasing.

Then World War II began and some operations on the reservation shut down. While awaiting another Interior Department appointment, Harold was employed by the Morrison and Knudson Construction Company and at the U.S. Navy Supply Depot, Clearfield, Utah.

His new appointment in January 1943, was on the Wind River Indian Reservation, Fort Washakie, Wyoming. A year later Harold enlisted in the U.S. Navy, becoming a Chief Petty Officer. He served in the Pacific theater of operations. During that time LaRetta and Shirley Rae lived in Boise, Idaho.

Following the war, Harold was employed by a surplus equipment company in Boise until he purchased a farm at Grandview, Idaho on the Snake River.

He and LaRetta, as in earlier and later years, were members of a four pieced group that played for dances, many being square dances.

Also at this time two nieces, Bonnie and Beth Wakefield, came to live with them. A nephew, Larry Wakefield, spent Summers in Grandview.

December 1954 the family moved to a ranch in northern Idaho. There the family grew and decreased with the comings and goings of county foster children, Bonnie, Beth, Larry and Shirley Rae (University ofIdaho, then Army), also, two other nephews and a niece.

Harold and LaRetta also owned and operated a school bus for the Bonner County School District, transporting elementary school children. If that were not enough, he decided to learn to play the violin.

After retiring from the ranch and the family gone, Harold and LaRetta drove often to Spokane, Washington (eighty miles one way) to work in ceramics. He studied and qualified, but did not take out, a real estate dealer’s license. He also studied TV repair and was kept so busy servicing and repairing televisions and radios that he hardly had time to finish the course to receive his certificate.

During this post ranch period, Harold and LaRetta were able to do some traveling. They went to the Seattle World’s Fair (daughter Shirley Rae was stationed in Seattle), took a trip up the highway to Alaska, toured through the southern U.S. to Georgia (where Shirley Rae joined them), to Florida, the east coast to Washington, D.C., west to Carthage, Nauvoo, (at Quincy, Illinois, Shirley Rae returned to Georgia) on to Ogden, and Priest Lake. They did take other, shorter (miles) trips, so did enjoy that brief retirement.

Leaving the Priest Lake area, they became motel owners and operators of the Dayton Motel in Dayton, Washington. It was there that Harold suffered a back injury while doing some remodeling. He then took up learning to play the saxophone to help improve breathing. The injury caused much suffering the rest of his life.

The fall of 1973 Harold and LaRetta moved back to the Grouse Creek-Lucin area, so were reunited with his family members living in Lucin. There he and three other relatives became interested in prospecting and dowsing, doing some wells in Grouse Creek, around Lucin, several in Park Valley and a few farther afield.

It was déjà vu all over again in May of 1976 when Harold and LaRetta traveled to Alabama to escort Shirley Rae and her two Korean adopted daughters, Kara and Donna, back to Lucin, via North Carolina as Beth Wakefield Walker lived there. Shirley Rae had retired from the Army, so Harold’s family grew in numbers once again.

An avid reader, he was knowledgeable in church government, in carpentry, plumbing, electrician, lapidary, all kinds of equipment, telephones, certified TV-radio repair, agriculture, music, inventing, and many other things. While working for the government he invented a speed governor for vehicles. Since he did work for the government, he could not have a patent. Later the speed governor developed into the speed or cruise control on automobiles.

Harold was a member of the Lions Club of Mountain City, Nevada, commander of the American Legion post in Grandview, Idaho, a board member of the Bruneau Valley, Idaho Soil Conservation District, a board member of Production Credit Association, and a member of the advisory board of the Boy Scouts in Dayton, Washington.

He joined the LDS Church in 1931, but was not active until several years later. In May 1961 Harold held the office of Deacon. By June 1963 he had held all of the offices in the priesthood and was Branch President of the Priest River Branch, Priest River, Idaho. It had been his desire to go through the priesthood offices the same as any young person. He had also been clerk and first counselor in the branch.

In Dayton, Washington Harold was again branch president in the Dayton Branch. There he was instrumental and participated in the growing of cucumbers for the Nalley Company to gain funds for the branch building fund. It was the first source of youth summer jobs that Dayton had ever had. The parents in the community could not thank the LDS church enough. The ward building was built and dedicated after Harold and LaRetta left the Dayton area.

Returning to Lucin, Harold became a counselor in the Montello, Nevada Branch. Later, in the Grouse Creek, Utah Ward he was an executive secretary, ward clerk, high priest teacher and home teacher.

Harold once said of himself that if he told anyone about all that he had done in his life, they would say that he was either a liar or he must be at least 150 years old. He didn’t quite make it to 150 years as he died on October 15, 1986, at age seventy-eight of pancreas cancer in the Salt Lake City Veteran’s Hospital. Interment was in the Ogden City Cemetery with military honors accorded by an American Legion color guard.