Walter “The General” Sepulveda Smith, 72, of Star, Idaho passed away Thursday, February 10, 2022, at St. Luke’s in Nampa. Walt was born November 14, 1949, to George and Joyce Smith in Van Nuys, California but moved to Sebastopol, California when he was a young child. He grew up in Sebastopol on what is fondly called Georgetown, a movie set memorabilia “ghost town” his father built on the ranch with him and his brothers.
Walt joined the Marines at 18 and served his country in the Vietnam War and was awarded a Purple Heart Medal. After he returned home, he joined the California State Police and was assigned to the personal security detail for Governor Ronald Reagan. Walt continued his military service in the California Army National Guard and graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1973. Walt served 30 years in the military and retired as Brigadier General from the California State Military Reserves in 1998.
Walt had an unwavering and lifelong love of flying and aircraft. His first job at 16 was as an aircraft fueler at the Sonoma County Airport for Manny’s Fuel Service. He flew air tankers for CAL FIRE (1969-70), graduated as Distinguished Graduate from the U.S. Army Rotary Wing Course (1975) and went on to fly helicopters for several years with the National Guard, and served as a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy helicopter rescue pilot flying Angel II (1979-80).
In 1977, he joined the Federal Aviation Administration, and he would later return to the Sonoma County Airport as the Airport Manager. He held several positions in the FAA including Air Traffic Controller at BAY TRACON in Oakland all the way to the Y2K Risk Branch Manager for the National Headquarters in Washington D.C. in 1999. He served his final detail with the FAA as the Regional Airport Manager for the North Bay and San Francisco region in California and retired in 2007 after 30 years of service. He then continued as a Consulting Contractor with the Washington Consulting Group on international projects until 2016.
Walt is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lois Smith (m. 1969), three children, Jennifer Biery, Marc Smith (Renee), and Scott Smith (Lyric) and seven grandchildren: Chance Appel, Caden Biery, Cole Biery, Kali Smith, Bri Smith, Zoie Smith, and Charlotte Smith. Walt is preceded in death by his son, Eric Smith (d. 1974). In 2007, Walt moved to Idaho with Lois to be close to his children and grandchildren.
In Idaho, Walt served as the Chairman for the Veteran’s Day Parade and President of the Military Officer’s Association (MOAA) and was a member of several Veteran’s organizations including the VFW and other state and national Veteran’s affiliations. Walt lived a life of service to his country, his community, and his family. He was happy spending his days planting trees and landscaping his property wherever he lived. He loved to cruise around in his WWII Willy’s Jeep and visit the Veteran’s Cemetery via the backroads of Star and Eagle or garner his General’s WWII deuce and a half ton truck in American flags, load up his grandkids, and parade in local Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day Parades.
Walt’s is a life well lived, he is remembered fondly by those he touched with his charm and charisma, he was truly interested in everyone he met, and he is deeply loved and missed by his friends and family.
Please visit the below blog for pictures and more details on Walt’s career and life.
Brigadier General (CA) Walter S. Smith, Ret: Brigadier General (CA) Walter S. Smith, Biography (walterssmith.blogspot.com)
A funeral servcie will be held, 12:00 pm, Friday, March 11, 2022 at Bowman Funeral Parlor, 10254 W. Carlton Bay Dr., Garden City with a viewing beginning at 11:00 am. A committal service will be held 2:00 pm, Friday, March 11, 2022 at Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, 10100 Horseshoe Bend Rd., Boise.
To watch the funeral service, please visit: https://vimeo.com/687298293
To watch the committal service, please visit: https://vimeo.com/687326242
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michael radtke saysFebruary 18, 2022 at 8:41 pm
To Walters family and friends, this is a shock to me. I worked as a atc controller at santa rosa ca, early 1990’s. He was a great boss, husband, father, and friend. His smile, laugh, and gentle soul will always be remembered. RIP.
Dave Guzman saysFebruary 23, 2022 at 6:25 pm
I first met Walt at a neighbor’s BBQ, and we became friends. As the lead for the Boise Veterans Day Parade, he employed several volunteer cadets each year from the Idaho Civil Air Patrol to assist with VIPs, crowd control and event parking. He would drive his old US Army Jeep around the neighborhood with his grand kids to the delight of the neighbors and of course his grandkids. We already miss him.
Mykki Venable saysMarch 6, 2022 at 7:36 am
I met Walt while working at the Boise airport. He was very kind, gracious and genuine. I loved hearing his stories of his adventures. His passion for people was inspiring. His love and pride for his family was beyond admirable. His eyes would twinkle when he talked about his wife, Lois, or those wonderful grandkids. He was a good friend and even though I had lost touch with him the past couple of years, I thought of him often. He impacted my life in such a positive way. I miss our conversations and his stories.
Alexandra Appela saysMarch 6, 2022 at 11:00 pm
My deepest condolences to all the family. I always enjoyed Walt and found him charming and most definitly charismatic. Walt was a big man and he lived a big life fully and deeply.
Kari (Grey) Sampietro saysMarch 13, 2022 at 8:26 am
You never know how wide your influence can be in your life…I met Walt when I worked as a young woman in the lobby of the Santa Rosa airport in the early 90’s. Even though I just worked part time at the car rental agency, Walt took the time to introduce himself and always say hi. He made an impression on me and whenever I think back on my time at the airport, I remember Walt. My deepest sympathies to his family.