A man who loved the land and sea, especially being on the water, and was described by all who knew him as the "salt of the earth" was laid to rest in his native Heart's Content Wednesday, Aug. 8.
The "Service of Thanksgiving and Praise to Almighty God for the life of Henry (Harry) Gordon Smith took place at St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church four days after Smith lost his life in a drowning accident near Cavendish, just up the shore.
The 79-year old Heart's Content man had been fishing with his brother, David when he stood up in the 14-foot aluminum craft they were in and lost his balance. Harry fell over, causing the boat to overturn and throwing David into the water as well. Both men were wearing life jackets at the time. While David was able to drag himself on top of the boat, Harry was unable to do so and slipped back into the water. David went back in for his brother pulling him back to shore where he performed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for about 25 minutes, but was unsuccessful in resuscitating the deceased. Doing everything humanly possible to save his brother, David also somehow found the strength to climb a steep embankment to seek help, but it was too late.
Love and respect
The deep respect in which Harry Smith was held was demonstrated by the more than 450 family members and friends from up and down the south shore of Trinity Bay, north shore of Conception Bay and beyond who filled the pews at the church to pay their final respects for their beloved family member and friend.
In her moving homily, Rev. Irene Sutton noted that since the tragedy unfolded, the Smith Family have been overwhelmed with gifts and calls from people who knew Harry, offering comfort to the family by their words and presence.
Rev. Sutton told the congregation some humorous anecdotes about meeting Harry for the first time and how he and her husband, Wayne, through their mutual affection for music and boats, hit it off the first time they met.
When he found out she had come from Bay de Verde, Rev. Sutton recalled Harry telling her he had worked with Newfoundland Light and Power for 30 years and had battled some stormy weather over that time, "but the Bay de Verde barrens was the worst place," he had ever experienced in a snowstorm. However he was quick to add that, "there are good people in that (Bay de Verde) area."
And so, "he made a lot of friends that way, all up and down both shores," the reverend observed.
She suggested, "he went out of his way to help people who were having trouble with their power - that is very evident here today."
Rev. Sutton recalled it was only last Thursday, (Aug. 2) Harry and her husband went out in his boat. "I'm sure they would have done much more of that if Harry had lived."
She also spoke of Harry's great sense of being able to see things by the roadside as he was driving along the shore. "Once he asked his companion if he had seen those fresh moose tracks on the road. He jammed on the brakes, went back and sure enough, there was a moose standing by the roadside. He never missed a thing!"
Pointing out Harry was a big sports fan, especially of baseball, curling and boxing, Rev. Sutton joked, "and he was a pretty good boxer himself when watching it on television. Once he got so excited his false teeth fell out. The Blue Jays have lost a dedicated fan."
From where she was standing, Rev. Sutton said, "it's very evident how much he loved his family and had a genuine love and concern for people. He himself was much loved, and that should bring you comfort and strength."
Alluding to the fact Harry had battled a number of health problems, Rev. Sutton said, "despite how he felt, he still loved to go out on the water. He was so excited to go out on the water last Saturday morning," that fateful day which turned out to be his final day on earth.
She said she had heard it said if it were his choice of how to go, it would be on the water.
Suggesting, "today many of you are burdened by grief and overwhelmed by sorrow, Rev. Sutton said, "that is a reflection of the joy and love you shared together." Comforting those mourning Harry Smith's loss, she said death is not the end, "death just transports us into eternal life."
Rev. Sutton said she had also witnessed the love and dedication of Joyce Smith, Harry's wife of 55 years.
"Don't blame yourself for (Harry's) death," she appealed to family members.
Reminding the congregation, "life is limited for all people," the pastor concluded, Harry has gone to his heavenly home, "a place where there is no more sin, pain, sickness or sorrow."