Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday, Grandad

My maternal grandfather, Glenn Murray Smith, would have been 100 years old today.

He was born on March 19, 1916 in Los Angeles, California.  He was the second of seven children born to his parents, Glenn Alvin Smith and Genevieve Frances Murray.  Glenn, along with his siblings, Virginia, Barbara, Patricia, Shirley, Joan and Kevin, grew up on Buckingham Road, near Crenshaw Boulevard, in what is now Central Los Angeles.

Glenn attended Loyola High School.  A sports enthusiast, he played football and tennis, and also enjoyed boxing.  While Glenn was a teenager, his parents began traveling quite a bit, due to the demands of their oil exporting business.  This provided many opportunities for Glenn to get into mischief and the freedom to attend events all over Los Angeles.  During his junior year of high school, he met my grandmother, LaVerne Rutherfurd, at a party at a skating rink.  On their first date, Glenn took LaVerne to see King Kong at Grauman's Chinese Theater on Sunset Boulevard. It was also his seventeenth birthday-- March 19, 1933.


Glenn attended Loyola University (now Loyola Marymount University) for two years, and then transferred to Stanford University.  During this time he took up rowing, worked many hours at a local garage to help pay tuition, and spent a summer wildcatting oil in Texas with his father.  He continued to date my grandmother, LaVerne, and upon returning to Los Angeles after graduating from college, he proposed marriage.

My grandparents in 1936, during their college years, at an air show in Los Angeles

Glenn Smith married LaVerne Rutherfurd on November 1, 1941 in Los Angeles.  They would have five children, including my mother, in the next fourteen years.

Glenn's parents had closed their exports business and moved into wine production as World War II loomed.  After his marriage, Glenn went to work in the family wine business.  When the United States entered the war, my grandfather joined the Navy, which meant several moves around the country to training facilities and officers' schools.  The war ended just as Glenn and his fellow officers were preparing to head overseas, so he never saw any action. After the war, Glenn settled his family in San Marino, California.  He took up a career of his own, commuting to downtown Los Angeles to work for A. Carlisle & Co. The printing and design company was located at 9th and Hill, and Glenn designed their product labels.  He would work there until he retired.

Glenn, LaVerne and their oldest child in the mid-1940s

I was fortunate enough to know my grandfather for two decades and have many memories of him.  I remember his love of boating and the ocean.  He owned a small sailboat, and used to take his children out sailing when they were young. He wasn't using it much anymore by the time I was growing up, but he still loved to be by the sea. Sometimes, he and my grandmother would rent a vacation house on Balboa Island in the summer, and we would visit them there.

My grandfather loved growing camellias, and he would display especially lovely blooms at the local flower show.  He was the president of the Southern California Camellia Society for several years.  He was also very fond of birds.  He and my grandmother owned two cockatiels, and Glenn was often to be found with a bird happily perched on his shoulder.  My grandfather was also a wine aficionado. He'd developed a great knowledge of wine when working for his parents' wine business and living near a vineyard they owned in Forestville, California.  I remember sitting at the dining table with him, after he and my grandmother had moved from San Marino to Dana Point, while he explained how to read a wine label.

My grandfather with his youngest child, boating off Balboa Island in the 1960s

My grandfather died on July 21, 1988 in Dana Point, California, at the age of 82.  He had suffered for years with Addison's Disease, an endocrine system disorder.  He is buried in Lake Forest, California, alongside my grandmother, who survived him.  They had been married for forty-seven years at the time of his death.