He was born in Anthony, Florida on October 10, 1922.
He was the second of seven children born to Furman and Edna Smoak.
He completed his elementary and high school education in Florida.
After two years at the University of Florida he drove across the United States to work the summer on a Forest Service crew in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.
On December 8, 1942 he enlisted in the US Navy.
He served on the USS Luzon repairing ships and landing crafts that helped retake the Pacific Islands.
He stayed with his ship in occupied Japan for nine months after VJ day.
He was honorably discharged in Charleston, South Carolina.
The diesel mechanic skills he acquired in the Navy served him well for the rest of his working years.
He returned to the Pacific Northwest where he met his future wife, Barbara Jessup at the Libby Canning Company in Walla Walla, Washington.
Elmer and Barbara were married on February 14, 1947.
In the spring of 1947 Elmer accepted a position with the Northern Pacific Railroad at the time of transition from steam to diesel engines.
He worked for the railroad in Livingston, Montana, St. Paul and Brainard, Minnesota, Tacoma, Washington and then back to Livingston, Montana.
He finished his railroad career as the Round House Foreman in Missoula, Montana in November of 1980.
Elmer and Barbara moved to Spokane in the spring of 1980.
That next November he began a position he cherished, playing Santa Claus in Spokane’s Riverpark Square.
He continued being “Santa Elmer” for the next 22 years listening to the Christmas wishes and dreams of many wonderful children and adults.
He enjoyed his wood working shop, camping, traveling and spending time with his family.
He loved his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and attended Garland Avenue Alliance Church.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years Barbara; three daughters Terri, Marilynn and Debbie; 2 grand-daughters Nanci (Gary) and Nikki (Dave); and 2 great grandchildren Ava and Ian.
He is also survived by 2 sisters and one brother.
The family wishes to thank the outstanding staff at the Spokane Veterans Home for their loving care of Elmer during his last 18 months.
A celebration of Elmer’s life will be held on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 2 PM at Heritage Funeral Home in Spokane.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the charity of your choice.
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