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Michael J. Smith
October 13, 1944 ~ January 26, 2024 (age 79) 79 Years Old
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Michael J. Smith passed away on January 26, 2024, in Santa Fe, NM, after a life fully lived. He was surrounded by love and family.
Mike was born October 13, 1944, and raised in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, IL, along with his surviving brother Jim Smith and two late sisters, Madeline and Patricia.
Mike was a life-long scrapper and self-made man with a razor-sharp intellect, a competitive nature, and a stubborn streak a mile long, leading to accomplishments throughout his life of which he was justifiably proud. These included graduating in the top 10% of his University of Notre Dame class with Beta Alpha Psi accounting honors and earning his Juris Doctorate law degree from Northwestern Law School in Evanston, IL. After a distinguished career at a top Chicago law firm, he opened his own successful law practice in 1992, Michael J. Smith & Associates. Mike was a highly-regarded litigator who drew nationwide corporate clients. He was deeply committed to his law practice until his retirement in 2009.
A stand-out athlete throughout his life, Mike competed in multiple high school sports, including tennis, basketball, and football. At Notre Dame, he won the prestigious Bengal Bouts Boxing Championship for his weight class after teaching himself to box. His victories continued with multiple Evanston Fourth of July Tennis Tournament championships, Sunday morning football wins in Bent Park, being unbeatable at sports trivia, and learning to ski and SCUBA dive in later life.
One of his most life-changing and greatest victories was overcoming alcoholism in 1996.
The roles that he was most proud of and that brought him the most joy were related to family. He was a loving father to three accomplished daughters, Heather, Hilary, and Meagan, all of whom inherited his deep intellect, quick wit, and competitive spirit. As a devoted husband to Marilyn, his life partner and cherished companion in all things, they shared a passion for travel and a love of their dogs. He joked and joshed with his four grandsons, Harrison, Sean, Brendan, and Connor, challenging them to be their best. As a beloved brother to Jim, father-in-law to the two Johns, uncle to his late sister’s children, and friend to many from Notre Dame, Chicago, and beyond, Mike treasured the laughs and support from everyone.
He also was a devoted pet parent to his dog companions beginning with Sam, the Rottweiler who first stole his heart, followed by Dexter, Dillon, and Kenzie, who survives him. Together they hiked New Mexico and other states seeing beautiful sites and scaring numerous rabbits along the way. Their unconditional love kept his heart full.
Global travel was one of his lifelong loves, and there were few places in the world that he had not visited. Africa was his and Marilyn’s favorite destination, and they traveled throughout the continent on multiple safaris, most recently in Botswana and South Africa. Diving trips, camping in Michigan, and other outdoor adventures with his daughters and their families were cherished getaways.
When he wasn’t traveling, Mike was a voracious reader and professional sports enthusiast, although his love of ice hockey outshone all other sports. His support of the Chicago Blackhawks included 12 years of season tickets even after he relocated to Santa Fe in 2008.
It was a life well-lived, and Mike will be remembered by family and friends differently depending on how his life intersected theirs, but there is no doubt that a common thread of remembrance will be his unwavering support of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Chicago Blackhawks.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to Guiding Eyes for the Blind (https://www.guidingeyes.org/), 611 Granite Rd Springs, Yorktown Heights, NY, 10598, or any animal shelter of your choice. Shared memories with Mike on Legacy.com will be most appreciated.
You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Michael J. Smith