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Robert's Story

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COOPERSTOWN — Mr. Robert Whitehill Smith, on of this country’s oldest living heart transplant patients, passed away Tuesday evening, Nov. 3, 2015, at Whitehill Cottage, his home in the Town of Middlefield, following a valiant struggle against cancer. He was 77.
Born Feb. 2, 1938, in Flushing, Queens, Bob was a son of Charles and Theodora (Miller) Smith.
After graduating from Bay Side High School, he enlisted in the United States Air Force on Feb. 5, 1957. He served as an Air Policeman with the 54th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and was stationed for one year in San Antonio, Texas, 18 months in South Korea, and 12 months at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota. He received his honorable discharge from the military on Nov. 4, 1960, having achieved the rank of Airman Second Class, and continued serving his country in the Reserves.
In 1963, Bob went to work for J.C. Penney in Valley Stream, and spent the next 30 years working in various locations in the New York City area. At the time of his retirement in 1993, he was managing a store in Massapequa on Long Island.
On March 29, 1980, Bob married the former Eulene Lewis in a ceremony at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. They lived on Long Island in Amityville, but when they both retired they moved to Oriental, North Carolina, and lived there for 11 years.
On Dec. 26, 1988, Bob had a heart transplant at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and, until his death, he was the longest living survivor of this type of operation in the United States.
In October 2004, Bob and Eulene moved back to Cooperstown. He had always wanted to live in an old farmhouse, so when they found what they felt was the perfect home in the Town of Middlefield, they purchased it and called it Whitehill Cottage.
Bob was a talented carpenter and woodworker, and throughout his life crafted many beautiful outdoor and indoor items for their home. He also enjoyed oil painting, golfing, downhill skiing, ice skating, and riding motorcycles. An avid musician, he played the banjo, and for eight years Bob and Eulene performed as the duo, “Harbor Sounds” at various venues in North Carolina. Perhaps most of all, Bob enjoyed being on the water with Eulene in their 34-foot Egg Harbor Sport Fisherman yacht “Mistral.” Together they cruised the waters off Long Island as well as the Atlantic.
Bob lived a great life full of many enjoyable times and adventures. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
Bob is survived by his beloved wife of 35 years, Eulene Smith of Cooperstown; two daughters, Deborah Schneider and Karen Cottone of Long Island; one son, Robert Whitehill Smith Jr. of Pennsylvania; Eulene’s daughter, Danielle Verity of Florida; Eulene’s two sons, Blake Verity of Long Island and Blair Verity of Pennsylvania; grandchildren; and two brothers, Donald Smith of New Jersey and William Smith of Maine.
He was preceded in death by Eulene’s son, Henry William Verity.
A memorial service will be offered at 1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Cooperstown United Methodist Church, with the Rev. William H. Delia, pastor, officiating.
For those who wish to remember Bob with a memorial gift, please consider donating to the American Cancer Society, 13 Beech St., Johnson City, NY 13790 or the Cooperstown Emergency Squad, P.O. Box 322, Cooperstown, NY 13326.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.
Published on  November 12, 2015
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