COOPERSTOWN – Leland C. Smith, 96, a World War II veteran who spent his career in Bassett Hospital’s business office, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, at Promenade Assisted Living in Chestnut Ridge, Rockland County.
Leland was born on Feb. 5, 1922, in Cooperstown, to Ethel and Charles Smith. He died less than a week before his 97th birthday.
A Marine, he was a member of the “Greatest Generation,” serving in the Pacific theater during World War II.
Soon after returning from service, he married Genevieve Gandle on Sept. 15, 1945, and they enjoyed a 69-year marriage together, mostly in his native Cooperstown, before moving to Pearl River in 2009 and to assisted living in 2014.
Genevieve pre-deceased Leland in 2015. He was also pre-deceased by sister Marjorie Simmons and brother Raymond Smith.
As a youth and well into adulthood, Leland was an active and accomplished sportsman, excelling in golf, bowling and in billiards. He loved playing cards and was still winning family “crazy rummy” tournaments up to his final week of life.
He worked at the family creamery for several years after leaving the Marine Corps, and spent the majority of his working life in accounting and finance at Bassett Hospital.
Leland was a quiet man, but had a wicked sense of humor. He had a smile for everyone, never had a harsh word or complaint about people or life. He reminded many of the theme of a Will Rogers classic, “I Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like,” and pointed out the best in everyone. He had a steady joy, which all who knew him could acknowledge.
In Cooperstown, he was an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Cooperstown golf and bowling leagues, the Mohican Club and Christ Episcopal Church.
In Pearl River, Leland volunteered with daughter Jeanne to deliver Meals on Wheels while able, and attended Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, particularly the Men’s Breakfast Group at the church, where he earned a reputation as a steady attendee and reliably enjoyed the companionship, projects and of course the great food at these monthly gatherings.
Leland is survived by his two daughters, Judy Motz and Jeanne Struck, son-in-law Richard Struck, grandchildren Julie Montesano and husband Rocco, and Jonathan Moore and wife Dhania, great-grandchildren Gerard Montesano and wife Jillian, Dante Montesano, Daniella Montesano and Zacary Moore. He is also survived by niece Nancy White and husband Richard, brother-in law Robert Simmons, sister-in-law Winifred Smith, and Judy Motz’s companion Bill Burke.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 112 North Main St., Pearl River.
Donations in memory of Leland Smith can be sent to Meals on Wheels of Rockland County, 121 West Nyack Road, Nanuet, NY 10954. Arrangements made through Wyman-Fisher Funeral Home in Pearl River.
Interment with military honors will be in Cooperstown at a later date.