James Frederick Smith
August 28, 1946 – January 6, 2020

James Frederick “Papa Fridge” Smith passed peacefully in his home January 6, 2020, in Eureka after a long and hard-fought illness. He was born in Los Angeles to Hobart and Gladys Mary Smith on August 28, 1946.

Jim is preceded in death by his parents, brother Garrett Smith, and niece Tibrina Smith. He is survived by his loving wife Elisabeth Smith, son and daughter-in-law James H. and Jennifer M. Smith as well as his beloved granddaughter Evelyn Grace. Additionally: cousins Dianne Bashor and Deborah Smith; sisters-in-law Della Grossman, Leslie Faliti and Charline Smith; brothers-in-law Kenneth Young and wife Laurie, Joseph Faliti and wife Celia; and many, many nieces and nephews.

After attending CSU, Northridge, he spent time at the Colorado River with friends and living the good bachelor life until June 12, 1982, when he caught the eye of a pretty lady in a red bikini. Jim and Liz were wed August 13, 1983, and welcomed their cherished son, Jimmy, two years later.

After relocating to Eureka from Irvine, Jim delivered appliances for a while, thus the nickname “Papa Fridge”; but the constant was always the ball field. As his son moved through the baseball programs, Jim was always there coaching and scorekeeping. He became president of the Falcons American Legion Baseball program, later becoming statistician for College of the Redwoods Baseball. More than just a friendly face with a great mustache and bucket of sunflower seeds, he grew to be seen as a mentor to many of the young men he crossed paths with.

Over the years Jim enjoyed many activities including marlin and tuna fishing in Cabo San Lucas and Newport Beach, western movies, hunting, tropical vacations with his “sweetie”, camping, and of course baseball. Above all, what he clearly loved most was his family – including the family that extended beyond his own home and onto the baseball field.

“Papa Fridge” will be fondly remembered for his laugh, his loyalty and respect for others, his generosity, his love of Jimmy Buffet, and of course, his famous Bloody Mary’s.

The family of James Frederick Smith wish to extend their sincere thanks to Redwood Coast PACE’s caring and loving staff, Dr. Jennifer Heideman and Hospice of Humboldt, with a special thank you to Whitney, Jim, Brian, Malae, Charlotte and all the caregivers who have aided him through the years.

A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, January 18, 2020, at the Wharfinger Building, Eureka, 2-5 p.m.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Jim Smith’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.