Veteran, inventor, animal lover. Born Oct. 12, 1921, in Sheffield, England. Died Nov. 20, 2011, in Mississauga of complications from hip surgery, aged 90.
The only child of Amy Buxton and Francis Walter Smith, Norman Smith spent most of his young life among adults. His cherished playmate in early life was his mutt-Airedale named Jack, unsurprising to most who knew Norman, as dogs and animals would always be a part of his life.
Coming of age in the 1930s, Norman participated in scholastics and sports, including competitive cross-country running and rugby. During the Second World War, he enlisted and found himself shipped to strategic points in Africa as a private in the English Army. His service included time spent in Tanzania, Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, the Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius, a place he would reminisce about often in his later days.
Life postwar brought Norman to early work assignments at the United Kingdom Optical Co. in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, and Glasgow, Scotland, as head of a department producing specialized metal parts. During this time he met his beloved Minnie and they married in 1949.
In 1951, Norman and Minnie immigrated to Canada. They first settled in Galt, Ont., and later Toronto before setting down roots and raising Ellen, Tony, Brenda and Jeremy in Mississauga. Sadly, daughter Susan died in early childhood.
A mechanical engineer by trade, Norman made valuable contributions to companies such as Ferranti-Packard, Fairchild and Trans-Lux Corp. His final career stops included Bausch & Lomb in Toronto and Mallory/Duracell in Mississauga.
During a brief retirement beginning in 1986, Norman dabbled in motorbikes and sailing. But working life beckoned again in 1988 for two more years with the launch of his own company, Pragmatek of Mississauga. The small firm specialized in the design and manufacture of machinery for a number of applications.
His retirement years were spent hiking the woods of the Credit and Humber rivers with his beloved dog Barney, observing the native wildlife and tinkering on his boat in Port Credit harbour.
Much later in life, Norman would often reflect with his family on his time serving on the island of Mauritius among the local tribespeople. One day the area was hit by a flash flood, and a young boy was caught in the rapidly moving water. Norman miraculously scooped up the young boy and rushed him to safety, saving his life. In the aftermath, a tribe elder declared that the Englishman would live forever.
Norman mused that he wasn’t sure whether the elder was declaring he would live forever literally, or just in the hearts of the local people for this feat of bravery. His family would deem it both.
By Jeremy Smith, Norman’s son.
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