James Smith, of Niles

Published 8:51am Thursday, July 24, 2014

Aug. 15, 1952 — July 19, 2014

James Smith
James Smith

At noon on Saturday, July 19, 2014, James “Jim” Keith Smith, of Niles, Michigan, died while surrounded by family in Linden, Virginia, after a valiant battle with cancer.

Jim was born on Aug. 15, 1952, in Benton Harbor, Michigan to Douglas and Madeleine (Krieger) Smith. He was the valedictorian of the first graduating class of Lake Michigan Catholic High School in 1970.

After graduation, he attended Ferris State College School of Pharmacy where he was a member of the Kappa Psi Fraternity. On Sept. 23, 1971, he won his future wife in a cribbage game; a long story but one he loved to tell. Jim married Martha “Marty” Leigh Meehling on Sunday, Aug. 25, 1974.

After graduating from Ferris in May of 1975, he began his pharmacy career at Gard’s Pharmacy in Hartford, Michigan. He then went on to serve as Director of Pharmacy at Addison Hospital (Addison, Michigan), Pawating Hospital (Niles), Davis Memorial Hospital (Elkins, West Virginia), NeighborCare (South Bend, Indiana), Our Lady of Peace Hospital (South Bend), Doctors NeuroPsychiatric Hospital (Bremen, Indiana), and RiverCrest Specialty Hospital (Mishawaka, Indiana). Jim was at his best when sharing his knowledge with others and helping them work up to their full potential.

Jim also had another passion — haunting. For more than 25 years, he played the Niles Haunted House icon, Beetle Juice. He was constantly amazed by the love of his many fans. He also served on the NHH board of directors and was a large part of the development of the Niles Haunted House Scream Park. “Juice’s” touch was evident in the layout, design, lighting, sound and decoration of the attractions, but his specialty was the creation of the Entry of the NHH each year.

In addition, Jim (with help from family friend, Gerrie Wisniewski) also designed and created “CarnEvil,” a haunted attraction for the Wisconsin Feargrounds in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Jim was also a founding member of the International Association of Haunted Attractions and served on the Board of Directors as Treasurer for many years. He will be missed by his many fans, NHHSP family, and haunted attraction colleagues.

The most important part of Jim’s life was his family; loving them and providing for them were his top priorities. He is missed by his wife of almost 40 years, Marty, children Quinn and Tera Smith, EmmaLeigh Smith, and Cary and PJ Hoffman; grandsons Colin and Ronan Smith, and special family friend Gerrie Wisniewski.

Jim is also survived by his mother, Madeleine Smith of St. Joseph, Michigan; siblings Michael (Clara) Smith of Chelsea, Michigan, Paula (Jan) Smith of Canada, Andrew (Béatrice) Smith of Belgium, and Jeffrey (Janet) Smith of St. Joseph, Michigan; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

A Celebration of Life for Jim is planned for Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, from 12-4 p.m. at Riverview Park in St. Joseph, Michigan. Those who wish may make contributions to the scholarship established in his name at http://jam7es.muchloved.com so that he can continue to help others learn for many years to come.

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