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John “Smitty” Smith

John “Smitty” Smith West Des Moines - John “Smitty” Smith, 68, passed away peacefully on January 2, 2022 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, after a long illness.


He was born May 1, 1953, in Des Moines to Martha and Howard Smith. His family was very involved in the Nazarene Church and traveled all over the state singing revivals at other churches.


In John’s late teen years, he joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in San Diego. When returning to Des Moines, he worked with his dad in the family business, Smith Drilling.

Smith Drilling then ventured to Colorado, which is where Smitty fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. He continued to work with his dad until the business was sold.


The next season in Smitty’s life was the car business. He was a very accomplished salesperson for almost 40 years, mainly between Charles Gabus Ford, Dewey Ford of Ankeny, and opening his own lot on Broadway in Des Moines. He made many lifelong friends through his work.


Due to health issues, his car selling slowed down and he enjoyed his retirement spending time with his children, watching the grandkids play ball and participate in school functions, working on classic cars with friends, making trips to Texas to visit family, and mostly, enjoying his time with his wife, Mary Jo.


Smitty was loved by many from all periods of his life. He is survived by his beloved wife of 31 years, Mary Jo; his children, Mike (LuAnn) Little, Jennifer (Aaron) Sanders, Abraham “A. J.” (Schelsy) Smith and step-children, Tim (Sarah) Hanson and Missy (Eric) Johnson.

Along with his 10 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his loving sister, Linda (Terry) Baldridge and niece Heidi Baldridge. He was preceded in death by his parents.


The family would like to thank the Veterans Administration for all the years of continued excellent care and compassion. They helped him live his best life. Also, a special thank you to the Emergency Room Department staff at Iowa Methodist Medical Center for making his last moments comfortable with family by his side.


Per his wishes, no funeral services are planned at this time. A Celebration of Life will be organized in the spring, 2022. Memorial contributions may be made to the family in his name.