School 12

James Franklin Smith

January 30, 1938 ~ January 10, 2022 (age 83)



James F. Smith (Jim), beloved husband, father, and grandfather, entered into heaven on January 10, 2022 in Morgan Hill, California. He was born on January 30, 1938 in Big Stone City, South Dakota. At the time of his passing, he was a resident of both Morgan Hill, California and Big Stone City, SD. 

He is survived by his wife Susan M. Smith; sons Brett and Bart; daughter Marci; granddaughter Janet; and grandsons Sam and Max. He is preceded in death by his parents Frank and Nellie; sister Janice; brother Joseph; and first wife Janet.

Jim was raised in Big Stone City, SD, where he served as an altar boy at St. Charles Church for many years. He went to college at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD and was later recognized as a Distinguished Alumni.

Jim spent his entire career in education. He moved to California in 1962 and began a 40 year career at Evergreen School District (ESD) in San Jose, as a teacher, principal and finally as a superintendent from 1975-2002, and was one of the longest-serving superintendents in the state of California. Under Jim’s leadership, ESD grew form a small rural district of one school to over 15 schools. Every school in the district except one was named as a California Distinguished School. Nine of the district’s 16 schools received national “Blue Ribbon” awards. As Jim said, “It kept me challenged.” In recognition of Jim’s outstanding leadership, “James F. Smith Elementary School,” was named for him and opened in 2001.

Jim was respected not only for his leadership but for his values and high expectations. His Midwestern sense of humor and witticisms never left him. Family was very important to him and he especially enjoyed road trips to Grand Teton National Park, sports, World War II history, and classic cars. 

A private memorial service will be on Friday, January 21 at 11am at Evergreen Valley Church, 2750 Yerba Buena Rd. San Jose, CA and a public celebration of life will be held in the spring.


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Franklin Smith, please visit our floral store.


Private Services

Evergreen Valley Church (Yerba Buena Rd)

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