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Obituaries

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John H. Smissaert
1924-2015

John Henry Smissaert, a long-time resident of Tiburon and attorney at law in San Francisco and Marin County, passed away on October 5 in Pacific Palisades, California.

Born March 27, 1924, in San Francisco, the son of Harry Smissaert and Truma Thomas Smissaert, John graduated from Lowell High School in 1941.
John enlisted in the U.S. Army on his 18th birthday and reported for training as an engineer at Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas. He saw active duty from 1943-1946, including 17 months of service in the European Theatre of World War II. He was awarded two Bronze stars for his service as a rifleman and sharpshooter in the Rhineland and Ardennes campaigns. His active duty service was followed by service in the U.S. Army Reserves as a Commissioned Major in the Judge Advocate General Corps.

John graduated from Stanford University in 1949 and the J.D. Hastings College of the Law at University of California at San Francisco in 1952. He was admitted to the State Bar of California the following year and developed an independent general civil practice based in San Francisco, where he worked as a trial attorney and specialized in real property, estate and business law. A highlight of his professional career was his work in later years as an arbitrator and mediator.

John also taught night-school courses in law at the University of San Francisco from 1957-1963. He was a college and part-time professional radio broadcaster who enjoyed traditional jazz music and discussing matters of law and world affairs. He also enjoyed a life-long passion for rail transportation and pursued an avocation as an urban rail historian and as an advocate of light-rail projects.

John possessed encyclopedic knowledge of the San Francisco Municipal Railway and the Pacific Electric "Red Car" system in Los Angeles, once America's largest interurban electric railway system. He delighted in sharing his love for railing with his wife, daughter and anyone else he could. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Tiburon Railroad & Ferry Depot Museum and enjoyed volunteering there.

John also enjoyed a life-long reputation for unimpeachable integrity and ethics in all matters professional and personal. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Isabelle Arnold Smissaert, who relocated with him from Tiburon to Pacific Palisades in 2008; his daughter, Laura; her husband, Timothy Schneider; and two grandsons, Luke and John "Jack" Schneider, all of Pacific Palisades.

(Published October 28, 2015)

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