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Mark Louis Smith passed away Dec. 1 in Bend, surrounded by family. Born in Oakland, Calif. to Kenneth O. Smith Jr. and Claudia A. Smith on June 11, 1948, Mark was raised in the hills above Willits, Calif., where he developed a lifelong love of the natural world, especially cattle ranching.
After graduating from Willits High School in 1966 and Cal Poly San Louis Obispo in 1972, Mark worked for Production Credit Association (PCA) in California, Hawaii and Nevada. During a break from agricultural banking, he was ranch foreman for a large cattle operation above Alexander Valley in Sonoma County, and it was there that he met and married his love, Deborah.
With the responsibility of a new family, Mark gladly accepted an offer to open a new PCA office in Burns. Although the PCA organization folded soon after Mark and his family arrived in Burns, they stayed. In the broad, high desert country of Eastern Oregon, he knew he was truly home.
Mark and Deborah happily blended into the community and built their home on a hill overlooking the alfalfa fields and cattle ranches in the distance. Mark’s experience in ranching and finance allowed him to always find ways to make a good living in Harney County.
He is survived by his wife, Deborah; his daughters, Sebrina Grillo of Santa Rosa, Calif., Gena Anderson and her husband, Kenny, of Twin Falls, Idaho; and his son, Chris Grillo of Santa Rosa, Calif. He also leaves his mother, Claudia Smith of Willits, Calif.; his brother and sister-in-law, Ken and Rose Smith of Willits, Calif.; and his grandsons, Wacey and Brenden Anderson.
Mark was preceded in death by his father and his sister, Margaret.
A big man with an even bigger heart, there is a sad and vacant place where he once stood in our family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Burns High School Athletic Fund to be used toward new football goal posts in memory of Mark.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, at Big Bear Lodge, 171 Hines Logging Road, in Hines.