I'll Miss Jerry Smith

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photo: EAA
Jerry Smith

In all likelihood, you never got to meet Jerry Smith, but if you've ever used a Stormscope, you owe him a debt of gratitude. More on that in a moment, but first the sad news is that Jerry Smith was killed in the crash of Cessna Cardinal near Mena, Arkansas this week. I learned of this tragedy when Garmin's aviation media specialist, Jessica Myers, sent an e-mail.

Jerry was one of those rare birds—a guy who had been intimately involved in light aircraft general aviation for almost his entire career. He knew everyone in the business and everyone knew him. I first met Jerry about 18 years ago when, I believe, he was still working for BF Goodrich doing development and research work on the Stormscope line, which Goodrich then owned. I had tracked him down for some detailed questions on how Stormscopes dealt with the always difficult task of determining the difference between a weak strike close in or a strong strike at great distance. Somehow or another, my questions lead to a query about how one might use the Stormscope for penetrating cells. There was a long pause and Jerry replied in that thick Arkansas drawl of his, "Well, why the heck would you want to do that?" As usual, he had a point.

After his stint at Goodrich, Jerry joined Garmin in 1994 as one of the company's first regional sales manager. He motored around the south central U.S. supporting and selling Garmin's complete line. Throughout his career, Jerry was an aircraft owner who used his airplane for work every day and he was doing that until the day he died.

At about every other trade show, I'd see Jerry in the Garmin booth and he would always take the time to find Tim Casey so the two of them could double team me with wisecracks and profoundly awful jokes. I always looked forward to it and I'll miss not having that opportunity again. We all know that nothing lasts forever, but when professional relationships are severed by the sudden violence of an airplane accident, none of us are ever really ready to adjust.

So here's a tip of the hat to Jerry Smith and the entire Garmin family. His passing will leave a gap not easily filled.

Comments (9)


Thank you so much. Jerry has been my mentor in both aviation and how to live life.

Posted by: Dave Brown | November 13, 2008 3:03 PM    Report this comment


Thank you for paying tribute to one of the truly finest human beings I have been priviledged to call my friend.

I too have known Jerry a long time 20+ years. We first met before B.F. Goodrich bought Stromscope from 3M. I worked for Northstar at the time selling the popular M1 and Jerry and I teamed up quite often to give seminars throughout the country.

I hired Jerry at Garmin in 1994 and he taught me more about this business than you can imagine for 14 wonderful years. I always marveled at his enthusiasm for flying and for the the Garmin products.

He will be greatly missed at Garmin for his great love of life and flying. His contributions to Garmin's product development have been numerous and earned him the highest praise with the best and brightest engineers in our organization.

I miss him terribly, but his contributions to this industry and the great memories of our times together will forever be treasured by those that had the priveledge to know Jerry Smith. Tim

Posted by: TIM CASEY | November 13, 2008 6:53 PM    Report this comment


Thank you for the thoughtful tribute to Jerry. I had the good fortune to know Jerry for over a decade, and my life is richer for it. He taught me many lessons about aviation, and set a wonderful example of how to live a great life. Jerry did everything with gusto and integrity. My favorite aviation and tradeshow memories have Jerry in them.

Thanks again for your comments.

Jamey Holland

Posted by: James Holland | November 14, 2008 9:28 AM    Report this comment

It is an honor to have known Jerry. He had great integrity and honesty that few will ever match. Words are not enough. Thanks Jerry.

Posted by: John Grogan | November 19, 2008 10:00 AM    Report this comment

Because of you I no longer get lost. Thanks Jerry!

Posted by: Rennie Goyette | November 19, 2008 12:19 PM    Report this comment

Thank you very much for this blog. Your words rang so true. Many folks got to call him friend, I got to call him Dad.

Scott Smith

Posted by: Scott Smith | November 21, 2008 1:36 PM    Report this comment


Jerry's made everyone around him happy, just by his presence. Miss working with him. He taught a lot of pilots, how to be better, and safer.

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