On March 6 RCMP were called in to investigate the death of 55-year-old Douglas Richard Smith.
“The whole thing is just absurd to me,” said Doug Cade, Smith’s uncle who he was named after. “The whole thing is why and who. It is hard to say what is going on. He befriended everyone. It didn’t matter who they were, they were welcome into his house forever it seemed. I guess that came back to bite him.”
Police were called to Smith’s Richter Road residence at approximately 8 p.m. It is believed Smith was found with a gunshot wound to the head, although RCMP have not confirmed that. Smith was a former truck driver who lived on his own but had two adult children. Those who knew the man said he was very giving and offered his hospitality to many.
“I can remember years ago when he was trucking he would pick up a hitchhiker and bring them home to stay with him and his family offering them some shelter and some food,” said Cade, who lives in Summerland and last saw his nephew last May during Hedley Stamp Mill Day.
Cade said Smith followed in his family’s footsteps by getting into the trucking business. One that took his father in 1966 when he was killed in a motor vehicle accident, his mother, Arleen Cade, died in 2008 in Surrey. In his immediate family, Smith is survived by siblings, his daughter Niki who lives in Penticton, son Jeremy who is also in the trucking business and five grandchildren.
After living in Surrey for many years the outdoor lifestyle of fishing and camping along with Hedley being the residence of his grandfather where he spent many summers, drew him back to town. He settled back in the community in the early 80s to raise his own family.
“He was a hard-working guy that was sports and outdoors minded. Fishing was his big thing. In fact, the family is going to ask for no flowers at his service and instead a donation by given to Agur Lake Camp instead,” said Cade.
Jennifer Douglass was Smith’s partner for seven years and remained friends even after their break up. She said his death is a great loss to Hedley.
“He would do anything for anyone. One time he gave away our last $20. I got mad at him but he said they needed it more than we did. It was a friend who needed gas money to get to the Coast for a family situation. He was right and that is the kind of man he was,” said Douglass. “When the gas station is closed in Hedley, we have very erratic hours here, people would come to Doug because they knew he would siphon his tank for them so they could get to Keremeos or Princeton to fill up. He was a really good person.”
A memorial is being held in Hedley for Smith on April 13 at 1 p.m. at the Chuchuwayha Hall. A memorial dance is also happening that evening at the community hall.