John Daniel Smith, Sr., born in Savannah, Ga, to Walter and Stella Smith. As a young boy he developed an interest in art which continued throughout his lifetime. He served in the United States Army as a Staff Sergeant during World War II, using his artistic talents as a cartographer in the Eighty-Eighth Infantry Division. After marching through North Africa and Italy from 1943 to 1945, his decorations included a Bronze Star for his service. Although no medals were given, the entire 88th Division was honored being one of only four divisions to be given the Croix De Guerre by the French government.
Mr. Smith graduated from Pratt Art Institute in 1949 and then lived and worked in New York City for the next ten years. His work included illustration, advertising, packaging design, and filmstrip art for children. In 1955, John married Annette Conlin of New Britain, Connecticut. Mr. Smith began freelance and consulting work for the Fisher-Price Toy Company, based in East Aurora, New York, in 1959. The family then moved to East Aurora, where his wife and eldest son continue to reside. Mr. Smith became the Director of Art at Fisher-Price, holding the position for more than two decades. During that time he oversaw a period of rapid expansion and amazing creativity within the company, and many of his life-long friends were fellow artists and co-workers in Research and Development's Art Department at Fisher Price. During the 1980s, Mr. Smith continued to work as an art consultant for Fisher-Price, and shortly thereafter established Graphic Color Associates, Ltd. With his wife Annette.
John loved speaking about art and demonstrating painting techniques for colleges and various groups, including local art clubs. His watercolors are exhibited in western New York, Charleston (South Carolina), and his hometown of Savannah. Over the years, John painted watercolor landscapes and photographed the outdoors in this country and Europe. His appreciating for nature's influence on perception contributed to his use of vibrant colors and light in his paintings. John also enjoyed drawing cartoons and creating personalized cards for family members and friends.
Mr. Smith was associated with the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society, the East Aurora Art Society, the Fine Arts League of Buffalo, the Art Directors-Communicators of western New York, the Color Marketing Group, and the American Legion. Among many interests he was an avid reader, especially of books about American and world history.
John is survived by his wife, Annette, his sister Betty Smith, who still resides at the family home in Savannah. By his children Daniel, Andrea, Eric, and Heidi; and his son-in-laws Jerry Poore and David Wyanski. By his grandchildren Davis, Jack, and Kate, as well as several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers Walter and J. Allan.
Memorial Services: 11 a.m. Saturday, July 27, 2013 at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Ga., with Rev. Enoch Hendry, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Savannah, Ga., officiating.
Flowers gratefully declined; if so desired, memorial gifts may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of East Aurora, New York, 16 Paine Street, East Aurora, New York 14052, to support art programs for children.
Fairhaven Funeral Home – Hubert C. Baker Chapel, 7415 Hodgson Memorial Drive, Savannah, Ga 31406, phone 912 – 927-1999, is in charge of local arrangements.