Bartlett Edward Smith
Mason, Michigan

July 9, 1920 - November 8, 2011

Bart, as he was known, was made a Lifetime Member of our chapter in 2007. He had been involved since the mid-60's and was a great source for information regarding the chapter. Bart had many stories to tell from his military service as a B-17 pilot during WWII, as a corporate pilot, and about soaring. He was the airport operator at Mason from 1947-1950 and had many interesting facts and stories about the early days of Mason-Jewett Airport. His homebuilt RS-15 sailplane is featured in our First Flights section.

Born on July 9, 1920, he was 91 years young when he died on November 8, 2011 of congestive heart failure.

Aviation was Bart's second love next to his family. He was a B-17 pilot in World War II and served in England, Germany and Africa in the 306th Bomb Group of the US Army Air Corps. He returned to the states after the war and worked various jobs, including at REO when they were designing and manufacturing rockets. All the while, he managed Jewett Airport in Mason in the late 40's and early 50's. He was a flight instructor and flew for Jewett Ambulance Service as well. He built an RS-15 sailplane which is now flying somewhere in New Jersey. Bart was also a professional musician, playing the bass fiddle in local area big bands and dance bands and traveled on the road before the war.

Bart was one of those people who could do just about anything. He was an accomplished carpenter, had a computer before most everyone else knew what they were (and used one up until this past summer), and had hobbies that over the years included building clocks, flying model aircraft, and trading music with good friends. His claim to fame was that his great, great, great, great uncle, Jessiah Bartlett, was the second signer of the Declaration of Independence, something he was proud of. He also had a relative named Smith Bartlett. He was active in genealogy and had a family tree that went back as far as the era of Charlemagne.

Bart was blessed with many good friends in his life, both still living and gone now. He was an intelligent, gentle and kind spirit with a nice smile and pleasant sense of humor. He was a wonderful father. He will be very much missed.

He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Gladys and Delbert Smith, his sister, Lorraine Smith, and his loving wife of 40 years, Donnajane Smith, who passed away in 1990. He is survived by his daughter Michelle Smith of Lansing, formerly of Mason, several nieces and nephews, and his cat, Preston. He was lovingly taken care of the last months of his life at the Ingham County Medical Care Facility by the wonderful staff of the South long term care unit.

Donations can be made in Bart's name to the Foundation in support of the Ingham County Medical Care Facility (ICMCF Foundation, 3860 Dobie Road, Okemos, MI 48864) or to the 55th Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA Chapter 55, Mason Jewett Field Airport, Mason, MI 48854).

The graveside service was held on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. at Maple Grove Cemetery, Mason, MI. Arrangements were through Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, 621 S. Jefferson, Mason, MI.

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