Bryon Franklin SmithMarch 20, 1922 ~ January 7, 2018 (age 95)
Passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 7, 2018, in the Healthcare Center at Friendship Village of South Hills, Pittsburgh PA. Byron was born in Shelocta RD, PA on March 20, 1922, to Frank and Vera Smith. He grew up on the family farm, the third child of ten. Byron graduated in 1940 from Elderton High School, Elderton, PA where he met his eventual lifelong love, Mary Frances Heckart. After graduation, he started working for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a Fireman in 1940. When the US became involved in WWII, Byron enlisted in the US Army and served in the 83rd Infantry Division, 331st Infantry Regiment in Europe. He landed with his unit at the Normandy beachhead to relieve the 101st Airborne on D Day +6. His combat experiences took him through the major European ground battles of WWII including the hedgerow country of Normandy, the Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge and he was among the first troops to cross the Elbe River where they stopped 35 miles from Berlin. Byron rose quickly through all the enlisted ranks, received a rare battlefield commission and was discharged as First Lieutenant in 1946. He received every award for valor short of the Medal of Honor to include two Bronze Stars, the Silver Star, and the British Distinguished Conduct Medal (Britain's equivalent to our Distinguished Service Cross) which was presented personally to him by Field Marshall Montgomery. Byron's acts of bravery were recognized March 20,2016, when he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Valor at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, PA on his 94th birthday. After the military, he resumed his railroad career (Pennsylvania RR, Penn Central and Conrail) for almost 50 years in expanding roles from locomotive engineer until he retired as Regional Operational Director in 1988 . Byron and Mary Frances were married on June 23, 1948, in Elderton, PA. They had a daughter and two sons and five grandchildren. They were blessed to be in their 70th year of marriage when he died. They lived 37 years in Bethel Park. For the last three years, Byron and Mary Frances have enjoyed life at Friendship Village . Byron's focus was in service to his family, his church and his community. He was a Presbyterian Deacon, worked in Stephen Ministry, served the community in the Meals on Wheels program at Bethel Presbyterian Church and served faithfully at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Byron was preceded in death by eight of his siblings. He is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Mary Frances; his daughter, Lindsay Lessig from Castle Valley, Utah; his son, Nathaniel Smith from Duncansville, his son, Joel from Bethel Park; his son-in-law, Paul Lessig (Lindsay); his daughter-in-law, Leslie Smith (Nathaniel), his daughter-in-law, Reverend Cathie Smith (Joel); and his five grandchildren, Taylor and Natalie Smith (Nathaniel) and Benjamin, Jacob and Emily Smith (Joel); along with his only surviving sister, Donna Dean Taylor of Clarion, PA. His memorial service will be held on Thursday, January 11, 2018, at 2 p.m. in the St. Clair Room, Friendship Village of South Hills, 1290 Boyce Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15241. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send donations on his behalf to Meals on Wheels, c/o Bethel Presbyterian Church, 2999 Bethel Church Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102. Checks should be to Meals on Wheels, Bethel Park/St. Clair. He will be deeply missed but he leaves a lasting legacy of faith, hope and love.