Walter E. Smith

Walter Emmett Smith
US Navy

Cambridge Idaho

Walter Emmett Smith was born on February 26, 1934 in Roundup, Montana, died May 31, 2012 with his family by his side on the ranch in Cambridge, Idaho.  Emmett was the 4th 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 summer, Emmett returned to Eastern Montana and worked on neighboring ranches.  He developed a love for cattle and horses that would hold his interest throughout his life.

After graduating from Central Valley High School, Spokane Valley in 1952, Emmett served in the US Navy aboard the USS Skagit during the Korean War.  When the ship returned from the Far East to San Diego, California, Emmett 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 married the love of his life, Zona, July 16, 1955.

In 1957 Emmett moved his family to the Hunters, Washington area when he took a job on a Hereford Ranch, after a few years they leased a ranch of their own, and on April 1, 1964, the bought the first of five ranches they owned.  Emmett and Zona’s Gray Eagle Ranch grew to over 250 purebred Hereford cattle; they also purchased a grade A dairy that they operated as well.  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 in Hunters.  The Gray Eagle was a gathering spot for family and friend, the Smith and Nilson families spend many good times working, hunting and pit barbequing 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, and 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 round.  With Zona running the lodge, and Emmett running the hunting and pack string, the business and circle of friends from across the US grew for the next 20 years.  The whole family loved spending time at the lodge, and Emmett’s children and their spouses were willingly recruited to help with the hunts and 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 City, Idaho.

Throughout his life Emmett enjoyed simple things, like good country music, camp coffee, a good mother cow, a well broke horse and a good rodeo.  He and Zona enjoyed trips to the NFR 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 of Deer Park, Washington and daughter Kim and Steve Royer of 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, brother Lynn Smith, Spokane, and brother Neal and Donna Smith of Gifford, Washington; nieces, nephews and cousins.  Emmett was also blessed with many, many friends in his life and he treasured them all.

Emmett was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Dennis Smith and sister Aleta Moad.

At his request no services will be held, the family plans a celebration of Emmett’s life in Hunters, Washington at a later date.  If you would like to make a donation in Emmett’s name, on of his favorite causes was the Cambridge Volunteer Fire and Ambulance.