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Rob (Bob) Smith

Rob (Bob) Smith, a man of compassion and generosity, died unexpectedly at his home in Lake George, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011. He was 61.

Rob was a beloved son, father, brother, uncle and friend to many. He was a longtime Morris resident. Smith overcame marked physical disabilities to make contributions to many individuals' lives. The hole that Rob has left in his untimely passing will not easily be filled.

Robert Smith was born in Morris, on Nov. 30, 1949 to William J. (Bill) and Vivian E. Smith. He was raised in Morris, graduated from Morris High School in 1967 and from UMM in 1974. In 1992 he earned a MA from Cardinal Stritch College. Smith worked for Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment (CEP) Program for many years where he assisted many in meeting the challenge of finding fulfilling work opportunities. Smith was active in the community and served as a Morris city councilor from 1994 to 1997.

Rob had a passion for the out-of-doors and the north woods of Minnesota. He loved "the cabin" on Gage Lake north of Park Rapids and spent many happy years fishing the lake, roaming the forest and tending the property. In 2005 he moved to a small acreage in Lake George so he could experience life in the woods and be closer to his beloved cabin.

In 1996 Smith suffered from spinal cord condition that left him with paraplegia. He was able to overcome this hardship to build a career where he helped others with and without disabilities. He worked in Fargo, N.D. for Freedom Resource Center for Independent Living and more recently, Rob was able to use his talents and skills as a Disabilities Services Coordinator for students at UMM.

He is survived by his son Luke from Minneapolis, his brother, Jim (Sandy) of British Columbia and sister Susan Smith Gilliland (Frank) of Pasadena, Calif. He was preceded in death by his father, Bill, and his mother, Vivian.

An open house gathering of friends to "celebrate his life" will be held at the UMM campus Student Center on Wednesday, Feb. 23 from 7-9 p.m. The informal gathering will create an opportunity to honor and celebrate Rob's life.

Instead of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be directed to the University of Minnesota, Morris scholarship fund to support students with disabilities.