William Churchill Smith

Date of Birth

May 7, 1957

Date of Death

June 30, 2014

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Bill, Billy, Bilbo, Smitty, Wild Bill

Beloved Son and Brother, Treasured Friend

Born May 7, 1957 in Cottage Hospital, William C. Smith died there peacefully on June 30, 2014, with his sister at his side. A lifelong “Santa Barbarian”, he deeply loved the waves in our sea, the winds in our sky, his friends, his cats, and his family. Whether skillfully working in the trades, joyously surfing The Pit, bravely soaring Wilcox, or silently pondering existence in his van on Elings Hill (while listening to KTYD of course), Bill lived life on his own terms.

Billy’s skill as a carpet layer and tile cutter were well-known in the local industry. His precision, focus and care resides in all the dwellings he helped improve. In his youth, he shaped and repaired many a surfboard, so he and friends could ride the waves gifted by Mother Ocean, whether they were our own Winter Swell wonders, North Shore challenges, or just lazy two-footers at “Henry’s”. For many years, Bilbo designed, built and flew his own fixed-wing hang gliders. From La Cumbre Peak, Figueroa Mountain and numerous West Coast sites, to Oahu’s Waimanalo Cliffs and Maui’s Haleakala Volcano, Wild Bill fearlessly ran off the edge, read and rode the air’s invisible forces and usually landed right on target – with a few notable exceptions. Like his father before him, Bill found true peace and abundant joy in the freedom of flight.

William could make anything, fix anything and would do anything to help a friend. He was blessed with a brilliant mind, talented hands, strong shoulders, and inquisitive nature. We were blessed by his lightening wit, infectious laugh and generous, kind heart. He endured great pain, yet readily found humor. He visited dark places, yet always returned to the light. Throughout all his earthly adventures and challenges, Billy knew he was accompanied by ever-present, infinitely deep, abiding love.

Bill’s mother, Carol, and sister, Robin, are thankful to have enjoyed many youthful family adventures, for shared home projects that will always symbolize his presence, talent and skill, and for those times in his life when Bill lived his favorite poem, by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds –
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of –
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Our gratitude goes to the skillful and loving staff of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital MICU unit. Their tender care helped Bill begin his next journey with dignity and grace. With his passing, there will always be a void at the beach, on the hill, up Wilcox, and in our hearts. For those wishing to leave an online remembrance, please visit www.wrhsb.com and find William Smith. For those wishing to make a donation in Bill’s honor, please help benefit the cats at Santa Barbara’s Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP).

On Sunday, July 27th at 11 am, there will be a Paddle Out at The Pit (Hendry’s Beach) followed by a gathering there on the “Glider Lawn”. All who come in the spirit of honor, forgiveness, and love are welcome.

No more pain. Rest peacefully Dear Bill. Then wake to ride the surf and soar the skies, forever free. We will see you in the shimmer of a cresting wave and on the wing of a circling hawk. Blessed Be.


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