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1947 Frederick William DeSmith 2024

Frederick William DeSmith

September 5, 1947 — January 13, 2024

Mandeville, LA

An extraordinary person deserves an extraordinary obituary. And to be honest, one would almost need divine intervention to properly eulogize a man as extraordinary as Fred DeSmith. He wasn't the mainstream definition of rich or society's conception of powerful. What made Fred DeSmith extraordinary were virtues we see too rarely in our world today. Fred was open-minded and selfless, and he was kind. He put the needs of others before his own, and he did it every day. Fred had no agenda and no ulterior motives. He wasn't trying to impress people with his benevolence or earn points to get to heaven or feel good about himself. A person with his kind of joy and quiet self-confidence had no use for such machinations. Helping others was his nature. He was Fred. 

Fred was born Frederick William DeSmith on September 5, 1947, in Loveland, Colorado. He grew up in rural Colorado and was a proud member of the Loveland High School Class of 65. He was a great adventurer: an Eagle Scout, a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1970 to 1973 in Ecuador, a hard-rock miner for two years in Leadville, Colorado, and a world traveler. He was a professional drummer (a current member of The Covington Concert Band and The Kilts of Many Colours), a fisherman, tennis player, hiker, biker, and an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He had a master's degree from the LSU School of Social Welfare and worked as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in services to children and their families. He spoke Spanish fluently and was called on to use his skill to serve Spanish-speaking children in crisis. As of this writing, we're still trying to corroborate the rumor that Fred walked on water. (An update is forthcoming.) Oh, did we forget to mention his sense of humor? We lost Fred to heart failure on Saturday, January 13, 2024. He was a resident of Mandeville, Louisiana since 1982. Fred is survived by his loving family: his wife of 37 years, Elaine Wiltse DeSmith; his children, Cal and Nina DeSmith, and his foster daughter Tiffany Barton (Michelle Hall) and grandson Riley Barton; his sisters, Gerry Gentry and Julie DeSmith (Jackie Parker); his mother-in-law, Nina Wiltse and brother-in-law, Robb Wiltse. He is preceded in death by his parents William and Geraldine DeSmith of New York State and his sisters Mary Decker (Darryl) and Kathy DeSmith (Kate Hendren). 

Truth be told, Fred wouldn't like this obit. He'd say, "Oh c'mon! That's too much." The man was unpretentious, though accomplished on so many levels. Songwriter Don McLean (American Pie) wrote a tribute to artist Vincent Van Gogh in 1972. In the last line of his song "Vincent," he wrote, "I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you." We could've told you, Fred, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you. Goodbye, dear one. 

A celebration of Fred's life will be held on Thursday, February 15, 11:00 a.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Lacombe. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please consider donating to The Peace Corps Fund (

We will be creating a Memory Book of Fred’s life. You are invited to bring a greeting card, poem, other writing, art or photographs regarding Fred to the service, and they will be entered into the Memory Book. You may also participate by creating something after the service with the supplies at our Memory Book table. If you cannot attend the service, you may mail these items to Elaine DeSmith.
Call Patty at 985 264-8089 for her address.

Join us via Zoom for the Memorial Service for Fred DeSmith Feb 15, 2024 10:30 AM Central Time

Meeting ID: 881 7878 8115
Passcode: Fred
To send flowers to the family in memory of Frederick William DeSmith, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Thursday, February 15, 2024

11:00am - 12:15 pm (Central time)

North Shore Unitarian Universalists

28662 Krentel Rd, Lacombe, LA 70445

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