Michael Lawrence Smyre, 74, passed away on February 14, 2018, the same way he lived life—with grit and dignity. Mike's story began on Christmas Day, 1943, in the city of High Point, North Carolina, though his formative years took place in Miami, Florida, where the family moved in 1944.
The son of Lawrence Augustus Smyre and Irma Ruth Setzer, Mike's start was not an easy one. Beset by rheumatic fever, Mike forwent much on the active joys of childhood in favor of quieter pursuits—most notably reading, which would remain a particular source of joy for him for the duration of his life. The sickly boy, at long last cleared in his early teens for all physical activity, became a strapping and robust young man of 6 feet 3 inches and 218 pounds, with an innate physical prowess that allowed him to letter in both baseball and basketball at Miami Dade High School.
His drive showed also in his work. His first job, toiling away evenings at a movie theater for 15 cents an hour, Monday through Saturday, provided him the means to purchase his first car—a canary yellow Mercury Comet—for $2,000, “cash on the barrel.” He didn't have the car long though.
Following graduation, the lure of military life and travels abroad were too much to let pass by. After signing on the dotted line, Mike was a Navy man, bound for San Diego with little more than the shirt on his back, to train as a electronics technician for the USS Klondike. Somewhere in there he managed a whirlwind courtship with a young woman whom he had met at a dance party. This is the person his children would call Mom—Ana Aurora Arzola. Given the demands on his time by the Navy, and feeling the need to make it official, they decided to elope in Las Vegas on June 26, 1965. Not long thereafter they were expecting. Unfortunately Mike was also soon to be off on his first and only tour aboard the Klondike, destined for ports in the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. A trip that would keep him away for nearly a year. Indeed, as he sailed away on the first leg of the journey in spring of 1966, his first son was born: Travis Tyrel.
When Mike eventually returned, he hung up his Navy whites and picked up a briefcase for IBM, which he carried for the entirety of his professional career, from 1967 through 2006, from Downey, California, where he and Ana first lived, to Longmont, Colorado, and finally to Rockford, Illinois. Along the way two other sons joined the family: Theron Trent in 1969, and Terence Tremayne in 1980.
As with all lives there were triumphs and setbacks, but the thing to know about Mike was his strength, fierce independence and resolve, full bodied love for those dear to him, and his quiet grace, generosity, and authenticity that pervaded his being. To those who knew him, Mike's departure will be felt keenly and deeply. He wouldn't want that. He never liked calling attention to himself or inconveniencing loved ones. To that, his family and friends can only say, Too bad: we love you, and we're going to miss you.
Mike is survived by his three sons, Travis (Dawn) Smyre of North Oaks, Minnesota; Theron (Jennifer) Smyre of Berthoud, Colorado; and Terence (Sabrina Stellrecht) Smyre of Richfield, Minnesota, as well as one grandson, Aiden (Theron and Jennifer) Smyre.
He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings, and wife, Ana, of forty-two years.
A visitation will be held in Honquest Family Funeral Home with Crematory, 4311 N. Mulford Road, Loves Park, on Monday, February 19, 2018 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. Burial in Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Winnebago, IL.