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Earl H. Smith, Jr. “Captain Smith” age 88, of Alachua, Florida, passed peacefully on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016 at the VA Medical Center, Gainesville, Florida. He was born on Oct. 23, 1928 in Homestead, Florida to the late Earl H. Smith Sr. and Sophie Ann Tallbacka Smith. The Smith family was the first residents of the fishing community at Card Sound.

Earl graduated from Homestead High School class of 1947. He served in the United States Air Force from 1948 to 1958 as a Tail Gunner on the B36 and the B50. After his military service, Earl and his growing family moved to Florida where he went back to his fishing roots and obtained his captain license. He was employed as captain on both charter and private sport fishing boats. He captained the Quail out of Key Largo, of which he is most proud of the three-day tournament in which 58 sailfish were caught and released. He then captained the 53-foot Magda out of Miami Beach for almost 30 years.

He is lovingly remembered by his wife of 64 years, Etta Nelson Smith, and his seven daughters: Loretta Mosley of Fort White, Florida, Audrey Smith (Brett) of Florence, South Carolina, Judy Fearing (Randy) of Gainesville, Florida, Betty Cuthbert (Rob) of Bradenton, Florida, Tina Hutchins (Paul) of Clinton, North Carolina, Barbara Dowdle (Lennard) of Texarkana, Texas and Wendy Lopez-Mata (Mario) of Falmouth, Massachusetts, 21 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, and his brother Bert “Bud” LeRoy Smith (Nancy) of Wichita, Kansas.

He is predeceased by his son Earl “Howard” Smith III and his son-in-law Dale Mosley.

The family will greet visitors on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 9:15 a.m., at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 24455 N.W. 174th Avenue North, High Springs, Florida. The funeral service will follow at 10 a.m. Burial will be at Forest Meadows West, 700 N.W .143rd Street, Newberry, Florida, following the service.

The family would like to express appreciation of all the staff at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center, especially those in the Palliative Care Unit and the Fisher House. Thank you for taking care of our patriarch, a man who “Never met a stranger.”