Wilfred Daniel Smith, “Chi-Beeb” age 83, of Bemidji, Minnesota passed away on December 12, 2019 from Regency Hospital in Golden Valley, MN. He was born in Onigum, MN on January 12, 1936. Will was the last living son of Harry Smith Sr. and Jennie (Ryan) Smith. He was raised in Onigum and attended school in Walker, MN. He was a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Fish Clan, Pilger Band. Will was the first Native American boy to play basketball for Walker Warriors (now known as Walker Wolves) and the Onigum Night Hawks. His basketball coach called him “Willy.” He moved to Minneapolis in his early 20’s and married Elvina (Martin) Smith and had two sons: Mark and Patrick Smith. Will’s life work consisted of being a tire warehouse worker for 13 years along with part time jobs. He eventually moved to Cass Lake, MN. He had one son with Shirley Kornezoes: Todd Smith. Will later married Maxine (Smith) Manypenny and had one daughter: BeeJay Smith. He went to technical college in Grand Forks for truck driving. He then was a cross-country truck driver for 16 years. Something special about Will was his will power to quit smoking 2 packs of cigarettes per day cold turkey in 1985. That was when cigarettes were $.85 per pack. Will loved to hunt, go fishing, ricing, netting and enjoyed powwows and love to play 20/20.
Will loved to speak Ojibwe and if you didn’t understand, he would tell you afterwards what he said in English. Most everything he said was so comical and made everyone laugh. He was most happy when people would come to visit him and especially enjoyed and loved his grandkids and great grandkids. He is remembered for his gentle, giving, caring nature, and is extremely great sense of humor. He loved to laugh, joke and tease all the time.
Will moved to Neilson Place in Bemidji, MN where he spent his last years battling diabetes. He liked to spend his days playing cribbage or solitaire on his computer, listening to old time country music, reading sports magazines, newspapers and western books, doing word finds, watching sports, news, movies and old shows, playing cribbage with friends, riding around the facility, to the hospital and Wal-Mart in his electric wheelchair.
He is welcomed home by his grandparents, parents; Harry and Jenny, brothers; Randolph White, Sr., Lyman White, Sr., Harry Smith, Jr., Kenneth Smith, Roger Smith and Lavern Smith, sons; Patrick and Todd Smith, grandson; Zane Smith, aunts uncles, nephews and cousins.
Will is survived by Maxine Manypenny, son; Mark Smith, daughters; BeeJay Smith and Lanaya Williams, grandchildren; Dominic Smith, Maria Smith, Samantha Smith, Julia Smith, Camryn Smith, Ava Smith, Michelle Smith, Tokina Smith, Damon Brown, Onishtah Smith, Miikowahdiiz Smith, great grandchildren; Izabell Smith, Samara Smith, Jameson Lefford, Laila Rockwell, Vincent Rockwell, Jr., Rosilea Homer, Adalynn Homer and Oliver Stafford, special nieces; Vicky, Debbie, Marilyn, Carol and Ashley.
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