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Laurence McLaughlin Smith


Laurence McLaughlin Smith, 82, of Coralville, died of cardiac failure on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clincs.
Laurence "Larry" Smith was born Oct. 2, 1936, in Nevada, Iowa, the son of Laurence and Helen (Gottschalk) Smith. Growing up in Coon Rapids with his younger sister, Nancy, Larry was "bright and cute as a button." He played basketball and worked in an ice cream parlor during high school.
He went on to attend the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity (and was reportedly a less-than-serious student). Upon graduating, Larry accepted his first teaching position at a junior high in Grinnell, Iowa. When he moved on to his next job in California, Larry took the scenic route, by way of Tucson, to drop off 18-year-old Judith Howe at the University of Arizona. The two were married in January 1961 and welcomed their first child, Kevin, later that year. Larry decided to get a master's degree from Iowa while he, Judy and Kevin lived in student housing on campus.
Larry's work took the young family to Omaha, Neb., where he completed his doctorate degree at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Son, Stephen, was born in Omaha in 1964. Diagnosed with a rare chromosomal disorder, Stevie exceeded medical, social and cognitive expectations for all of his 43 years.
Subsequent career moves included positions as an assistant professor at the University of Arizona and principal at Minnetonka High School in Minnetonka, Minn. Son, Nile was born shortly after the family moved to Minnetonka in 1972. Larry's Ph.D. earned him the nickname "Doc" among his students, faculty and friends at Minnetonka.
Returning to Iowa City in 1984 following his retirement from Minnetonka, Larry took a position as academic advisor for incoming freshmen at the University while Judy helped his mother run the Blue Top Motel, a local landmark. The family spent nearly 50 summers in Ely, Minn., where Larry's parents owned a cabin on Burntside Lake.
Among his accomplishments, Larry maintained sobriety for 37 years and was always available to counsel young people and families struggling with addiction. He maintained deep relationships with his advisees that included student athletes, many of whom became like family to Larry and Judy. He also became acquainted with a student from Malaysia, Patricia Wong, and promised her father he'd look after her. Decades later, Larry and Judy remain her honorary godparents.
For better, for worse, in sickness, and in health, Judy was Larry's foundation and soulmate. This was never more apparent than in Larry's final weeks when he continued to reach for her hand as the two shared the couch.
In addition to his wife, Judith of Coralville; survivors include sons, Kevin (Cynthia) Smith of Eden Prairie, Minn., and Nile (Lisa) Smith of Evergreen, Colo.; goddaughter, Patricia Wong of Danville, Calif.; grandsons, Derek, Connor, Tristan, Owen and Wyatt Smith; goddaughter, Mei Ling Wong; and sister, Nancy Robinson of Bellingham, Wash.
He was preceded in death by his parents and son, Stephen.
A celebration of Life will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. with a service at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame, 2425 Prairie Meadow Dr., Iowa City, IA 52242. All are invited. The date was selected because it's a football bye week so there's no excuse not to show up and celebrate a great human and Hawkeye.
Donations may be made to the Stephen Smith "Keep on Moving'" Fund at Systems Unlimited in Iowa City.
Private burial will be in Oakland Cemetery, Iowa City.
Online condolences may be directed to www.lensingfuneral.com.
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