The town of Putnam and surrounding communities experienced shocking news Feb. 5 as the word of the sudden death of Dale Smith spread quietly and sadly from one person to another.  The affable Smith died while shoveling snow at work where he served as the Director of Facilities and Maintenance for the Putnam Public Schools.
Dale Smith died at the too young age of 57.  He was unexpectedly taken from his family, wife Peg, daughter Meghan, son Matt and sisters Sheila and Melody.  He was also taken from his golfing fraternity, his fellow employees and multitude of friends. 
Memories of Dale were shared at his funeral service by his longtime friends and golfing buddies Bob Tetreault and Earl Semmelrock.  The pair not only expressed the sympathies of the community but shared some lighter moments with the throng of approximately 250 people, young and old, at the solemn service.
Memories of his exploits on the golf course were highlighted.  He was undoubtedly the most prodigious Club Champion to grace the fairways and greens of Quinnatisset Country Club, the owner of eight championship trophies at the legendary Thompson course.  It was noted that he proudly represented northeastern Connecticut at the famed Norwich Invitational where was also crowned champion.
The eulogists spoke of his love and devotion of family.  They related how proud he was of the three Connecticut Father/Son Golf titles he came home with, partnering with his son Matt, now  a professional golfer.  It was Dale’s influence on Matt at a young age and later through his high school and college years that brought him great joy.  He nurtured Matt into not only a great golfer but into a respectful and polite young man.
Dale received great satisfaction when he had the opportunity to serve as the golf coach of the Tourtellotte Tigers.  Matt and his teammates brought a Connecticut State title to North Grosvenordale with Dale guiding the team’s fortunes.  Unfortunately, Dale will not be able to witness Matt’s future golf success but it’s a certainty that each time Matt picks up a golf club his dad will be with him in spirit.
He was equally proud of his daughter Meghan who has turned her education at Wheaton College into a successful career.  Dale and his wife Peg enjoyed many proud moments together watching their kids grow and succeed.  They also shared and persevered through the loss of their infant son Kevin.  Together they grew in love and were preparing to move into the next stage of their lives in their New Hampshire retirement home.
In reflecting on my memories of Dale Smith, I picture not only his smooth golf swing and lengthy drives but I see a cherubic young man who walked into my math class at Putnam Middle School in 1969 as a fifth grade student.  The smile on his face and his friendly and good natured sense of humor was present then as it was until the end of his life.  His early education carried him to a successful life dedicated to helping others in every endeavor he undertook.
In a life that was taken too soon and too suddenly to characterize it in golf terms, Dale played a perfect front nine.  Just as he was making the turn and looking forward to a great back nine, it was snatched away.    
Premier golfer, dedicated employee, loving husband and father, Dale Smith will be fondly remembered as he endeared himself to everyone he met.  He’ll be missed in many facets of the community but the memories his life is leaving behind will live on.
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