Cover photo for James R. "Jim" Smith's Obituary
James R. "Jim" Smith Profile Photo
1933 James 2020

James R. "Jim" Smith

February 23, 1933 — October 20, 2020

SMITH---James Richard “Jim,” 87, Erie, went to be with the Lord on October 20, 2020 in Erie Pa. Born on February 23, 1933, in Johnstown, PA, son of William and Margaret Smith. Jim was married to his beloved wife, Maryann for 68 years until her passing in 2018. He is survived by sons, Steve Smith of Erie Pa, Paul Smith and wife Rosanne of Philadelphia PA, Michael Smith of Boise, ID, and Gerald Smith, Roanoke, Texas; grandchildren, Kelly Applin and husband, Stilson, Jason, Zachary and Ashly Smith and Shelly Meadows, great-grandchildren, Whitman, Monroe, Lilly Elizabeth and Turner. Brother of Tom Smith and wife Nancy of Johnstown, PA; also survived by nephews, Billy Smith and wife Kim, Kyle Smith and wife Gina, Thomas Smith and wife Sherri, and niece, Brenda Torchia and husband, Joe. Jim was born and raised in Johnstown, PA and graduated from Ferndale High School in 1951.  He met Maryann Brant who was to become his future wife. At Ferndale, he excelled in both academics and sports and was named to the 1950 Tribune All Scholastic football team.  He earned a football scholarship to Brown University where he majored in English Literature while at the same time engaging in Brown’s ROTC program with plans to become a pilot in the Air Force. Jim excelled as a pilot and served in both Korea and Vietnam. He performed his duties with distinction. During 1967 while on his Vietnam tour, Jim commanded C47 Flareships which provided the “lights” in the night sky to help protect US forces form night time attacks from Viet Cong forces. He achieved the rank Major USAF and upon completion of his Viet Nam duty, Jim was given the assignment of “Command Pilot” for General Graham commander, U.S. Forces Japan, and commander, Fifth Air Force. This assignment had Jim and his family move to Yakota AFB near Tokyo, Japan on a three-year tour ending in 1970. During those years Jim flew extensively throughout the far east as the general’s C-118 pilot. One of his fondest memories was getting to fly his C118 command ship into Johnstown airport. He always considered himself one of those fortunate enough to have a career doing what he most loved. Jim’s final duty was at Wright Paterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio where he ran their Flight Simulator Training program. In 1976 after 18 years in the military, Jim decided to retire to civilian life. He moved to Erie, PA and took a job with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals as a territory representative. Jim excelled at Pfizer earning many accolades during his 24 year career including their highest honor, the Vice President’s Council award which he was honored with on multiple occasions. Jim retired in 2000 to enjoy life with his wife playing golf and traveling. Although Jim and his family spent many years living in different places, Jim never lost his love for Johnstown and his family and friends there. The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Harris Funeral Home, 500 Cherry Lane, Richland. Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Benedict Catholic Church, Fr. David S. Peles, Pastor. Entombment, Richland Mausoleum. Military graveside rites will be conducted by Menoher VFW Post #155 ritual team. Online condolences may be posted at

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Mass

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

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