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1935 James 2020

James Smith

December 22, 1935 — December 18, 2020

James D. Smith

12/22/35 – 12/18/20

After a hard-fought battle with cancer, James “Jim” D. Smith of Vinita, OK, peacefully transitioned to heaven at his home on December 18, 2020, at the age of 84, four days from his 85th birthday.  His family was in his presence at the time he went to be with the Lord.

Jim was born December 22, 1935, in Strang, OK, to James Martin Smith and Sue Gale (Trout) Smith, who predeceased him. He grew up in a large family in Big Cabin, OK, with 2 sisters and 4 brothers.  Two brothers, Tony Smith and Keith (Bud) Smith predeceased him.

He leaves behind 4 siblings, Geta Gatterman of Albuquerque, NM, Zane Douglas Smith (Dottie), of Gallup, NM, Gayle Vanatta of Vinita, OK, and Phil (Linda) Smith of Jenks, OK, as well as numerous nieces and nephews who spent their childhood around Uncle Jim and Aunt Violet.

After graduating from Big Cabin, he joined the Air Force from 1954-1958 and was stationed many places, including California, Washington state, and the Philippines, which he talked about often. He then returned to the Vinita area and worked for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority before taking a position at Eastern State Hospital. It was during this time he met, Violet Mae Vanover at the California Café on old Route 66 and they were married on January 7, 1963.  Both worked at Eastern State Hospital until their respective retirements and made their home in Vinita, OK. They were married 40 years, until her death on September 29, 2003.

Jim and Violet adopted, with much love, discipline and patience, 3 children, Carla Pruden (Robert) of Bentonville, AR, Lisa Washam (Brian) of Vinita, OK, and Scott Smith of Vinita, OK. He is also survived by his 2 grandchildren, Brian Washam II of Hattiesburg, MS and Jessie Washam of Norman, OK, whom he loved very much and was blessed to be around their entire lives.

Jim was an electrician by trade, but retired as the Maintenance Superintendent at Eastern State Hospital in December 1997, with many fond memories and jokes with former co-workers and employees. He was on the Vinita City Council and a Deacon at Family Praise Center in Vinita, which he and Violet began attending in 1977.  He was a strong Christian man who loved the Lord and remained a member of Family Praise until his death.

Jim was a kind man who had a great smile and sense of humor, but could definitely be hard headed, he loved all sports and enjoyed coaching his children in their youth activities.  He loved watching his beloved St. Louis Cardinals and reading the newspaper every day, and was always in the market for a new vehicle, as Green Country Ford knows. Jim was also a songwriter and even during his last months, he would ask us to take down a few lines.   He had a profound knowledge of country music and could tell you who wrote almost any song recorded before 1975.  He loved watching his RFD country music shows and would not be happy if something interfered.  And he loved watching western movies or TV shows, always pointing out who an actor was or asking did we recognize someone.  He loved southern food, especially crappie and catfish, fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and the occasional stop at Long John Silvers.  Our family had many wonderful occasions to get together throughout the years and always with an overabundance of food, but he didn’t want us to leave him leftovers.  Dad, you may be gone, but will never be forgotten.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Family Praise Center Endowment in Memory of James D. Smith.

Visitation will be December 21, 5 pm-7 pm at Family Praise Center, 330 W. Dwain Willis Ave. in Vinita, OK.

A celebration of his life will be December 22 at noon at Family Praise Center, 330 W. Dwain Willis Ave. in Vinita, OK, with Pastor Ben Coats and Pastor Jerry Odgon officiating.

Interment will be at New Eucha Cemetery in Eucha, OK.

Pallbearers will be Brian Washam II, Jessie Washam, Tom Allard, John Spradling and John Kuder.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Ronnie Colvin, Jim Wright, Charlie King and his many nieces and nephews.

Services are under the direction of Luginbuel Funeral Home, Vinita, OK. Condolences may be left at or our Luginbuel Facebook page.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Smith, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, December 21, 2020

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Starts at 12:00 pm (Central time)

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