Hundreds pay last respects to Eastern Iowan doctor - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hundreds pay last respects to Eastern Iowan doctor

Hundreds pay last respects to Eastern Iowan doctor

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McGREGOR (KWWL) -

Hundreds of people stood outside MFL Mar-Mac McGregor Center on Monday morning to pay respect to Dr. Clifford Smith.

"He was a very compassionate man. He loved people. He was very charismatic," his son Clay Smith said.

Smith was born in Waterloo in 1925. He graduated from East High School and joined the US Army Corp of Engineers. That's when he became a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. But that was just the beginning of his impact across the country.

"He liked to listen, and he used to tell me if you listen to someone long enough as physician they will tell you what the problem is," daughter Shelley Smith said.

After the war, Smith attended University of Iowa. There he became the first African American resident at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Iowa City. He spent a few years in New Jersey. He then found himself back in Iowa where he settled down as a doctor in McGregor.

"One day not to many years ago I said, 'Dad, why did you come here?' He said, 'The people.' So he was very devoted and committed to this community," Shelley Smith said.

And he was so devoted that he spent 41 years of his career in Iowa. His kids recall him saying that if he has a patient that couldn't afford to pay a bill, he's let them pay in it off by doing service for him. Or making small payments at time. But his kids say his compassion and care is what made him unique.

"I think that's always going to be with me. I don't think it's anything I'm really going to miss. He instilled that with me so that will always be with me. Dad's spirit will always be with me," Clay said.

"His compassion and spirit and the way he was, if were with him, all those who were attracted to him were just kind of charmed and calmed," Shelley said.

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