Lawrence E. (Larry) Smith
September 6, 1936 – July 1, 2023
On July 1, 2023, Oakhurst lost its resident woodcarver, and heaven gained an artist. Lawrence E. (Larry) Smith passed away peacefully surrounded by family after a lengthy illness.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, October 21, 2023, at 11 am at Oakhurst Lutheran Church, where Larry practiced and served for many years. Leading the service are pastors Jason Johnson and David Sebastian.
Larry was born on September 6, 1936, at Barnett Sanitarium in Fresno—the site of which is now Community Regional Medical Center. He attended Temperance-Kutner Elementary School and graduated from Clovis High School in the class of 1955. He spent about a year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State before joining the US Air Force.
Larry leaves his wife, Jean, of over 60 years as well as two sisters, Lois of Fresno and Louann of Pennsylvania. Surviving Larry are four children, Eric, Laura, Diana and Gregory, as well as eight grandchildren, Tiffany, Cara, Zachary, Eli, Elena, Katrina, Sierra and Jake.
During his working years, he was employed by SCM Corporation and Yosemite National Park (where he cared for alarm systems, two-way radios and repeater sites). His last employment was at High Sierra RV Park in Oakhurst, where he put to excellent use his knowledge of Yosemite as well as his 14 years of full-time RVing, traveling the country and learning its history. He was an excellent host to visitors to the park.
He was a member of Caring Vets of America, Fresno Flats Historical Park and Oakhurst Lutheran Church. He served as usher, Sunday School teacher and on the church council of both Trinity Lutheran Church and Oakhurst Lutheran Church. He and wife Jean served as craft coordinators at SKP Park of the Sierras.
As much as he loved his family, Larry had another abiding passion: Woodcarving. Even more than doing the carving himself, he loved to share his knowledge and techniques with others. To that end, he created and ran the annual Oakhurst Woodcarvers’ Rendezvous for fourteen years (with two years skipped because of COVID). This event brought together beginning and master woodcarvers from all over the country both to teach and to learn new techniques. Due to his efforts, he also brought added revenue to Oakhurst area restaurants, gift shops, hotels and RV parks. A group of fellow woodcarvers have taken the reins from Larry and intend to keep Larry’s creation alive for years to come.
Larry never met a stranger. His wife, Jean, recounts a time at a concert at Mountain Christian Center where he sat in back, as was his habit, where he greeted a number of people. A fellow came up to him at the end of the concert and said, “I’ve lived here 22 years, and you know more people than I do.” He was always surrounded by friends, young and old. He is missed by all of them.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers please make donations in Larry’s name to Oakhurst Lutheran Church, 39255 Black Road, Oakhurst, CA 93644.