CHARLESTON, IL – Dr. Calvin N. Smith, age 85 of Charleston, formerly of Grace, Idaho and retired EIU Professor, passed away on Friday, January 1, 2021 at his Villas of Holly Brook home. A visitation will be held from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 8, 2021 at Adams Funeral Chapel in Charleston. The funeral service honoring and celebrating his life will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 9, 2021 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7426 Country Club Road in Mattoon. Burial will follow at Mound Cemetery in Charleston. Charitable gifts in his honor may be made to the Eastern Illinois University Foundation or to Lincolnland Hospice and left at the visitation/service or mailed to Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, Illinois 61920.
Calvin was born in Soda Springs, Idaho on February 26, 1935, a son of the late Warren Samuel and Lilith Marie (Williams) Smith. He was raised on the family farm near Grace, Idaho and was a 1953 graduate of Grace High School. Calvin attended Idaho State College for a year before transferring to Brigham Young University. From 1956 – 1958 he filled a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then returned to college, graduating from Idaho State in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree. After earning a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University, he was awarded a part-time instructorship at Purdue University in the fall of 1961 and began work on his Ph.D in Speech. On June 8, 1962 Calvin began a new chapter in his life with his new bride, Lucille (Bennion) Smith, following a wedding ceremony in Manti, Utah. Calvin went on to complete his doctorate in 1965 and began teaching at Eastern Illinois University in the Speech Department that fall. After a fulfilling career at EIU that spanned 32 ½ years, Calvin retired in January of 1998.
His wife, Lucille passed away on February 5, 2001 and Calvin later married Nancy Lou (Pool) Sparks. Surviving is Nancy, his devoted wife of 19 years; two children, Sherilyn Smith of Laguna Niguel, California and Samuel S. Smith of San Clemente, California; two stepchildren, Crystal Sparks of Mattoon and Kurtis Sparks and wife Phyllis of Lerna, Illinois; four step-grandchildren, James, Jeremy and Haley Sparks and Emily (Jordan) Hall, all of Mattoon; and a step-great-grandson, Rowan Hall. In addition to his parents and first wife, Calvin was preceded in death by a brother, Warren Smith and a sister, Beverly (Smith) Nelson.
Cal was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mattoon. He was one of the founders of the Coles County Genealogical Society which began in January of 1975. He loved his job at EIU, was equally fond of the city of Charleston and its surrounding environment and was actively involved in various aspects of community affairs. In keeping with Cal’s sense of humor he often said, “They can build a fence around Coles County and I won’t care as long as I’m inside it.” He was a charter member and served on the board of the Five Mile House Foundation, served on the City Cemetery board, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Cal was a published author of a book titled Big Cats, Small Cats: Cats from ‘A’ to ‘Z’. He enjoyed music, good humor, laughter, running and jogging. He was a marathon runner and often tagged himself as the ‘lone runner of East Harrison Street Road!’ Cal always had a smile and a story to share and will be missed by his family and many friends.
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