Michael Curtiss Smith, 78, of Bay Tree Lakes passed away suddenly in an accident on July 10, 2021 in the community that he loved and had lived for 47 years. It was his piece of paradise. It was there that he taught countless children and adults to water ski and coached his children to become National Champions and professional water skiers. He held water ski clinics for anyone that would come. You could often find him repairing a slalom course or jump ramp and dragging up someone new to teach. For many years he was a water ski judge and in 2019 along with his late wife, Betty Lou Spivey, he was given the award of distinction from the North Carolina Water Ski Hall of Fame. He competed on a National level in jump and he won 3rd place at the National Championships in 2005 and 5th place in 2006. He was also N.C. State Jump Champion several times, as well as medaling at the Southern Regionals several times. He competed in all three events, but his family got the most joy out of watching him trick. He was a member of the White Lake Ski Heels and he was an officer and served on the board for many years. He dreamed of building his own professional ski lake and he did along with a water ski school for people to learn to ski or improve their craft. He held many water ski tournaments there including the N.C State Championship. He helped found the UNCW Water Ski Team and he spent countless hours coaching them. Later in life he took up wake surfing and could be found teaching or driving everyone that was willing to learn. He was also an avid snow skier and had recently discovered a newfound joy of skiing with his granddaughter. When he wasn’t water skiing, he could be found on Beech Mountain snow skiing, where he spent his honeymoon in 1969 and made a second home. He also enjoyed scuba diving and hunting.
He loved people and for him it was a true joy to dive in and really get to know them. He wanted all the details and intricacies and he remembered them all. He went out of his way to help people, especially children. He changed many lives and was often generous to a fault. He seemed like a mean ‘ol bear, but he was really just a big softie. Many came to him for help and he was always willing and he always kept it to himself. Family was of the utmost importance to him. He was often heard saying to his children, “We came as a family, we will leave as a family.” He was a doting father and his purpose was to give them a better life and he did. He never failed to encourage them to follow their dreams and no dream was too big. He was known for taping inspirational quotes to their mirrors. He was proud of the life and family he created with Betty Lou, as he should be. He would brag about his granddaughter to anyone that would listen.
He was the oldest of five children born to Treva Hill and Alfred Leroy Smith. Born July 29, 1942 in Fort Bragg and a proud Army Brat. He went to high school in Italy where he met his life long best friend of 63 years Curtis Cooper. He graduated from Aberdeen high School in 1960. At 17, he enlisted in the Navy and became an electrician where he served from 1960-1965. He got out of the Navy and attended Pembroke State College where he majored in Math and Chemistry graduating Cum Laude in 1969. He married Betty Lou Spivey on February 15, 1969 and joined the Merchant Marines shortly after. He was extremely proud of his military service and the military service of his father, brother (Robert), and father in law. He was an entrepreneur and owned several businesses that were successful. He was a real estate broker and a corrosion and chemical engineer focusing on municipal water treatment. He loved his work because he loved people. He loved to travel the world and was so excited about his recent accidental ride on a turtle’s back in the Galapagos Islands. He made many long time friends from all over the world and he cherished each and every one. In his final act of love for life, he was an organ & tissue donor.
Surviving are the apple of his eye and his only grandchild, his granddaughter, Spivey Holguin, his daughter, Starlotte Smith Holguin and husband Toby; his son, Markham Scott Smith; his brother Robert Smith and wife Mary Jane; his sister Pat Daniels; his sister Linda Williams and husband Dwayne; three nieces, Brandy Smith, Holly Foust, & Erica Dukes; several cousins; his girlfriend, Lyudmila Galeyeva; his “son” via exchange student program, Jorge Deandar and wife Mariesela and their 3 children Andrea, Mariana, and Arturo; and his precious dog, Harley & grand dogs.
His wife of 44 years, Betty Lou Spivey; his mother, Treva Avilee Hill; his father, Alfred Leroy Smith; and a brother, Alfred Leroy Smith Jr., and two nephews preceded Michael in death.
A memorial and celebration of life will be held at the Bay Tree Lakes Clubhouse August 21, 2021 at 4:30 pm. A memorial service will be held first and then heavy hors d’oeuvres and dancing. Wear your party clothes and your dancing shoes. No black. He wanted his life celebrated because he had an amazing life and did more than he ever thought possible. In his words, “It’s been a helluva ride!” This Hunter S. Thompson quote became one of his favorites, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow what a ride!” And he literally skidded in sideways, just as he wanted.
If at all possible, let Starlotte know you are coming so they can plan for food, drinks and help out of town guests with accommodations.