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Walter Emmett Smith

July 10, 2012

Walter Emmett Smith passed away May 31, 2012 with his family by his side on the ranch in Cambridge, Idaho. He was born Feb. 26, 1934 in Roundup, MT.
He was the fourth of six children born to Frank and Bernice Johnson Smith. With only a grade school in the Flat Willow country of Montana, when Emmett’s older brother reached high school, the family decided to move to a small, irrigated produce and berry farm in the Spokane valley.
During the summers, Emmett returned to eastern Montana and worked on neighboring ranches. He developed a love for cattle and horses that would hold his interest throughout life.
After graduating from Central Valley High School (Spokane) in 1952, he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Skagit during the Korean War. When the ship returned from the Far East to San Diego, he was surprised by Zona Kay Nilson, who was there to meet the ship. Emmett and Zona grew up in the same Green Acres neighborhood in the Spokane valley. Emmett and Zona married on July 16, 1955.
In 1957 Emmett moved his family to the Hunters area, where he took a job on a Hereford ranch. After a few years, they leased a ranch of their own, and on April 1, 1964, they bought the first of five ranches. Emmett and Zona’s Gray Eagle Ranch grew to over 250 purebred Hereford cattle. They also purchased a Grade A dairy. Horses were a key to the ranching operation and Emmett raised and trained many ranch and performance horses throughout his life.
Emmett and Zona raised their three children, Wendy, Karl and Kim, at Hunters. The Gray Eagle was a gathering place for family and friends. The Smith and Nilson families spent many good times working, hunting and pit barbecuing together over the years.
A guided hunting trip to Idaho’s back-country with friends in 1978 changed the course of Emmett’s life. A new adventure began when he purchased Dixie Outfitters. Together with Zona they built up the business in Dixie, Idaho. They constructed a large log lodge in the town of Dixie, and eventually moved there to live year around.
With Zona running the lodge and Emmett running the pack string and hunting, the business and circle of friends from across the U.S. grew for almost 20 years.
The entire family loved spending time at the lodge, and Emmett’s children and their spouses were willingly recruited to help with the hunts and with the guests.
In 2000, Emmett sold Dixie Outfitters and they moved to Cambridge, Idaho to be near family. Active again with cattle and horses, he still missed the mountains and spent summers at the cabin he built at Red River, near Elk, Idaho.
Throughout his life, Emmett enjoyed simple things, like good country music, camp coffee, a good mother cow, a well broke horse, and rodeos. He and Zona enjoyed trips to the National Finals Rodeo and Dodge Finals numerous times. He had a quiet, personal relationship with the Lord, and always felt closest the further he was in the mountains.
Emmett is survived by his wife of almost 57 years, Zona; his daughter, Wendy Taylor, Cambridge; son Karl and Debbie Smith, Deer Park; daughter Kim and Steve Royer, Cambridge; grandchildren Amy Whitmore, Steven Taylor, Vicki Micone, Lannette Smith, Wyatt Smith, Kaycee Royer and Mitchel Royer; many great-grandchildren; his sister, Mavis Baum, Spokane; brothers Lynn Smith, Spokane and Neal and Donna Smith, Gifford; nieces nephews and cousins.

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