James Smith, 80

Playwright, St. Catherine parishioner

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James Stafford "Staff" Smith, 80, died on June 3, 2013. Born in Oak Park, he was baptized at St. Angela Catholic Church in Chicago's Austin neighborhood and graduated from St. Catherine of Siena Grammar School in 1947. He graduated from Fenwick High School in 1951, where he was a member of the varsity swim team, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1955, majoring in marketing. In the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1958, he served oversees in Tokyo, where he skied Mt. Fuji, then served in the Army Reserves from 1958-1962.

An author, he wrote many copyrighted plays, including The High-Rise Vampire and Papa's Letter. An extra in the movie North by Northwest, which was filmed at Chicago's Union Station in 1958, he acted in various films in California, including at MGM Studios and in the Chicago region.

He was committed to staying physically fit and was a lifelong member at Vic Tanny Health Club, which eventually became Chicago Health Club in Oak Park. He worked for a pharmaceutical company, among other jobs. A man of deep faith, he was a daily communicant at St. Catherine of Siena Church for most of his adult life, a faithful devotee of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every Holy Thursday, and enjoyed the tradition of a Christmas Eve tour of all of the Catholic basilicas in the Chicago region, often getting home at 5 a.m.

He was the central figure of the Smith and Stafford families and the conveyor of all family news and recipes.

Staff Smith was the son of the late John V. Smith and Mary Catherine (nee Stafford) Smith; the brother of the late Catherine Marie (nee Smith) Malec and John Joseph Smith, the nephew of Will, Bernard, Frank, Mary, John, Phillip, Leo, Ellen, Thomas, Lydia/Girlie, Tony, Gertrude and Joseph on his father's side and Ellen, Josephine and James, John on his mother's side; and the uncle of John V. II, Michael Joseph, Steven Joseph, Paul Joseph, Ann Marie, Peter Joseph, David Joseph, Cathleen Marie, Marirose, Julie Ann Marie, Mathew Stephen, John Joseph, Danielle Therese and Suzanne Elizabeth, in addition to 30 grand-nephews and grand-nieces. He was a friend to many and a fixture in Oak Park for all of his 79 years.

Visitation will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, June 8, at St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Church, 38 N. Austin Blvd. Funeral Mass will follow immediately at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Parish can be made by calling 708-386-8077.

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