CHICAGO (WLS) — Walter E. Smithe, Jr., founder of Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design, has died at the age of 86, his family said.
Smithe’s wife of 64 years was by his side when he passed, and he was surrounded by his family, relatives said in a statement.
Smithe was born in Chicago and raised in the Belmont Central neighborhood. He attended college at the University of Notre Dame, and later got a master’s degree from Loyola Univeristy.
After marrying his wife Florence Flynn Smithe, the couple moved to Indiana and Smithe served in the U.S. Army. After his discharge he worked for GE and IBM in the computer industry. In 1967, he his family said he was “lured back” to their furniture business and soon founded what would become Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design, the first custom order furniture company in the Chicagoland area.
Smithe was active in the business for the rest of his life, his family said, and spent weekends at the Smithe showrooms until recently. He also volunteered for many years with Habitat for Humanity.
He is survived by his wife, seven children, 16 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
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