Cover photo for Wayne Smetanka's Obituary
1936 Wayne 2023

Wayne Smetanka

January 26, 1936 — June 21, 2023

On June 21, 2023, Wayne Smetanka entered into that undiscovered country from whose born no traveler returns. He was born January 26, 1936 in Sugar Creek Township, Venango County, Pennsylvania, often called Rocky Grove. His parents, Andrew and Eleanor, lived there until 1939 when the family moved to Warren, PA.

He was raised a Pennsylvania deer hunter and graduated from Warren High School in 1954. He served in the Army from 1954 until his honorable discharge in 1956. He cut timber and worked for Sylvania Electric for a year before enrolling in a two year forestry program at Paul Smiths College in northern New York State. He earned a Forestry BS degree, a Master of Forestry degree, and met his future wife at the New York State University College of Forestry at Syracuse. He and Patricia Lassen were married in 1963.

His Forest Service career spanned five states. He was a forester in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Vermont. He was a district ranger in Eveleth and Tofte of the Superior National Forest in Minnesota. In 1979, he joined the Custer National Forest in Billings, MT as the fire and timber staff officer. He was very active in wildfire management and served as a plans chief on a Region Type I fire team. He retired from the Forest Service in 1991 and continued forestry consulting work for ranchers, tribes, federal agencies, and continued to go on fires as a plans chief.

In 1999, he and Pat returned to Minnesota and built a lake home near Park Rapids where they enjoyed many years together. In 2019, he moved to Dillon, MT to be nearer to his children. He was an avid outdoorsman and hunter, especially for upland birds, and a skilled handloader and caster. He was an accomplished vintner, brewer, and distiller which he enthusiastically shared with others.

He was a Master Mason having served the Craft for over fifty years, was Master of the Park Rapids MN Shell Lodge 2007-2009, and received the Hiram Award in 2006.

He was preceded in death by his wife in 2009, his brother Paul, and his sister-in-law Gertrude. He is survived by daughters Mary (Mark) D’Aversa and Rachel Smetanka, son Andrew (JoAnna) Smetanka, and three grandchildren Asa, Axel, and Iia. He donated his remains to the WWAMI Medical Education Program. A celebration of life and the spreading of his ashes will be scheduled at a future date.

The family requests that in lieu flowers, donations may be made to your local Humane Society or Animal Shelter in Wayne’s name.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Wayne Smetanka, please visit our flower store.

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