Liza Smith: "My Dad Was the Toughest Person I Know"



Jeff Smith and his truck
Liza Smith wants to have another cup of coffee with her dad, newspaperman Jeff Smith, who passed away over the weekend at age 67.

"He loved a hot cup of coffee in the morning," Liza says. “He had just bought a new coffee maker and I really excited about coming down and christening the coffee maker and drink coffee with my dad. It was just one of those little things he turned into an adventure.”

Liza ticks off a few of the things her dad loved: His dogs. His horse and his burro. The open road. Christmas morning. Welding and building and tinkering around his house, and hers.

And his family.

“Above all else, he loved his family,” Liza says.

“We would cook together,” Liza says. “He told me, I love it when we’re all in the kitchen together.”

Liza doesn't know what she's going to do without him.

“My dad was the toughest person I know,” she says. “It wasn’t just his ability to withstand the pain he lived with everyday. He was also one of the most positive people I’ve ever known. He was the person I turned to for cheering up.”

“He was my hero.”

They had a date coming up, a plan to get out on the road together.

“He grew up here, and one his favorite things was taking rides on back roads,” she says. “He really knew the country. Next weekend, we were planning on taking a drive in the San Rafael Valley, after the monsoons, when everything is green. It was just one of his favorite things to do. He just loved the road.”

Jeff’s son, Caleb, is scrambling to get home from New York City, where he’s now working on movie sets, building what needs to get built.

He remembers his dad “had the biggest heart and he was the strongest man I’ve ever known—the toughest son-of-a-bitch.”

Watching his dad deal with the aftermath of the motorcycle accident that left him in a wheelchair “taught me how to be a man.”

“He took adversity head on, at all times, and it didn’t change him, it strengthened him,” Caleb says.

Caleb doesn’t believe his dad will ever really be gone: “He was just too big a personality to ever disappear.”

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