Ray Smith

1966 – 2020

tribute by Mark Burwell

Ray only came to one Hoof Trimmer’s convention and that was in Atlanta. His time there was used well as far as meeting trimmers far and wide. He went to pick up his last Appleton chute that he bought at the convention, which gave him ample reason to talk with everyone interested in our business. Many trimmers remember meeting and talking with Ray in Atlanta. and he became a person many people contacted when they had trouble with their chute, me included. Ray always enjoyed talking about ways to improve our work environment, as well as the cows well being while she was in our care. He was always concerned about every cow and treating her as if she were his own.

I always tried to get Ray to go to HTA conventions after that, but he would not fly on a plane. He said if God wanted him to fly, He would have given him wings. I think this story tells a lot about Ray and where he came from. His father, Paul, and his mother, Virginia, were given a present by one of Ray’s sisters and her husband several years back. The present was a trip out west to see the country where they traveled for a couple of weeks and many miles before reaching the west coast. On that trip Ray called his father on the phone to see what he thought of the trip. If you knew Ray well, he was always looking for a clever way to approach a question. Paul’s famous answer was that it was the only place he had ever been that he could see the whole train at one time. Ray laughed about that for quite some time; the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. When I had the opportunity to travel to Delta, Utah as part of the trimming crew for the Nye family dairy, I thought of Ray’s question and Paul’s answer.

Ray’s mother and father were 100 % American Indian. They were part of the Lumbee tribe in South Carolina. Ray was proud of his Indian heritage. He had incredible work ethic and was a machine when it came to the number of cows he could trim day after day. His temper was even and steady any time we worked together, except when the farmer’s peacock attacked the bumper on his truck. He did get a little uptight that day!

Ray refused to get on social media when it first came out. However, when the World of Hoof trimming and Hoof Hearted came online, he was all in. He traveled for work most every day and was in a hotel several nights per week. He was a student of the Hoof Trimming business and read, researched and talked to those he could gain information from. The Facebook pages mentioned above were a natural fit for him. He conversed with people worldwide and as Skip Blake put it, he wasn’t afraid to say it as he saw it. He contributed to questions asked by fellow trimmers, and added his own insights.

When Ray was diagnosed with cancer, he made it public. He journaled his steps to fight it. and most of it was hard to read. However, it was in true Ray Smith fashion in that it was real. It was to the point and it made all of us cheer for his recovery. Trimmers from all over the world came forward with support and raised money for Ray and his family. It was hard for Ray to accept everyone’s generosity, because he was a man that always made his own way in life. He worked hard up until just months before his passing. It was a hard decision for him to give up his business, but he did what needed to be done in the end. It was common for Ray and I to talk on our way to our farms or on our way home at the end of the day. I’m really going to miss those conversations, as well as my friend and yours – Mr. Ray Smith.

P.S.: He wouldn’t have liked the formality of Mr. but he earned it in my mind.