Input from Family and Friends

One word Descriptors of Shane......

  • Complex
  • Philosopher
  • Emotionally Loving
  • Genius
  • Caring
  • Inspiring
  • Provocative
  • Thoughtful
  • Funny-Punny
  • Helpful
  • Encouraging
  • Deep
  • Kitty Lover
  • Loyal
  • Free Spirit
  • Disciplined
  • Minimalist
  • Dedicated
  • Focused
  • Multi-faceted
  • Principled
  • Serene
  • Enlightened
  • Super-active
  • Luminous


Stories, Memories about Shane

My story is encountering Shane's miniaturized packing of a 15# backpack preparing for all contingencies for a three day solo mountain climbing adventure. He thought of everything, was very proud to demonstrate all his efforts and had 100's of successful climbs. (Richard R.)

I have had many outdoor and travel experiences with Shane. He would always adapt and continue on. He would find fun and enthusiasm. His humor was unlimited. One time, we took cheap flights to Santiago Chile. On way from Panama to LAX, the flight ran short of fuel and we had to land at the Tijuana airport late at night. Shane said he had the perfect slogan for the airline…“We have the cheapest flights...and you're going to find out why”! (Steve S.)

Shane sent this photo of me that he took during at a CCCC game. The jacket was a stylish blue checked of my favorites at the time. Shane used to tell me he could play checkers using the coat if he couldn't find a checker board. He always teased me about it. The photo has always reminded me of the great times at Cerro Coso College and has meant a great deal to me. (Bill L.)

A dear family friend created this accurate poetic description of Shane based on his name.(Kelli C.)

I loved how eager Shane was to help people experience higher levels of thought without attaching any form of judgment. Shane loved to lead by example and inspired others to come along for a joyful adventure. (Kelli C.)

My best times with Shane were sitting around a table enjoying a vegan meal (especially Thanksgiving) and talking! He always managed to find a topic that would create lots of energy!! He was a terrific listener and brought laughter to even the most serious topics!!(Darlene S.)

Shane was on his way to visit me when he was in his fatal accident. I wrote this poem to deal with my emotions. (Susie L.).....




> Shane is my nephew

> he’s as nice as he can be

> He loves all his family

> and I know that he loves me


> Shane is my nephew

> and he is also my friend

> We have so much in common

> We thought we would never end


> Shane is my nephew

> Oldest son of my brother

> He never lacked for special love

> From his father or his mother


> Shane is my nephew

> He had a sister and two brothers

> They were all close as they could be

> He will be missed as no other


> Shane is my nephew

> As complicated as they come

> He had so many facets

> His loss is an absolute stun


> Shane is my nephew

> And I loved him as a son

> We had such fun together

> He was truly an original one


> Shane is my nephew

> He died on his way to me

> As much as that hurts it is wonderful

> I was the one he wanted to see


> Shane is my nephew

> He has a special place in my heart

> And though he is gone

> We will never be apart


> Shane is my nephew

> He was Vince’s nephew too

> They discussed so much together

> In heaven that will continue


> Shane is my nephew

> Preceded in death by my Vince

> And now they are together

> Hopefully all things now make sense


> Because now they are together

> Vince and grandparents too

> Family will meet again

> In heaven and eternity through


> Shane is my nephew

> And he waits for us above

> To join him in the future

> And remember him with love


> Aunt Susie

When I was playing Basketball for Burroughs High School, I had an exceptional night making 41 points. Shane insisted for years that I get off soda pop and would provide me with healthy drinks during the games. Everyone thought it was a bit silly. After that game, everyone wanted to know what Shane was bringing me....all healthy, of course. (Sten S.) Shane was so proud of all Sten's athletic accomplishments and felt a part of them.(Susan S).

This Christmas 2020 was amazing. I couldn't have asked for anything more. It was also very difficult as it was the first Christmas without my older brother. Watching the boys open presents this year reminded me of the joy Shane felt as he watched them open their gifts last year on his final Christmas. He would have had so much fun exchanging gifts again with them this year. He would always give them something different (like vegan food) instead of toys. (Lol). Then he would just laugh as they looked at him in bewilderment. He was a great uncle and I am grateful for the time my boys had with him before he left us. They will always love their uncle Shane. (Sten S)

(Part of the reason for this website is a legacy to his nephews and family from Shane).


The last time I got to spend with Shane, we took on the daunting task of answering questions to a game show that he and his dad liked to watch. Shane would verify (and LOL) that during at least one round, we excelled as a team and got as high as 2-3 correct answers per 10 questions. We had fun that night and did great. He enjoyed so many things in life and made the experience of sharing them so enhanced for those around him, whether during a game show, playing tennis, or traveling to the Atacama Desert in Chile. (Jerry B)


We will always remember Shane's goal of climbing all the mountains nearby us. He would rise early, drive to the closest mountain, climb the mountain and return to our house the same day. He accomplished this during one of his visits here. (Jan M)


One night Shane and I went out to dinner at a chinese restaurant. He was always reluctant because he couldn't get the healthy food he wanted. When we ordered our meals it was not what Shane had asked for. He ordered another entree and again, they didn't follow what he asked for so he ordered again. Finally, they brought what he wanted. When the bill came, they didn't charge him. He said “No Way” and paid for all three, plus extra for their efforts. I have never forgotten how gracious Shane was. (Luis R)


I hiked two big climbs with Shane, Mt. Whitney and Langley. Both were very tough for me, but he stayed with me the whole way. I made it to the top. He was so supportive and I could not have done it without him. (Lisa Z)



What I learned from Shane

Optimism. He was a joyful man who looked for and was always interested in the good of people. (Richard R.)

Vegan food, even ice cream, can be delicious! (Kelli C.)

Shane became an example of so many things over the time I knew him. He modeled a healthy lifestyle with vulnerability and overcoming challenges while still loving life. It was such a joy to know him. I learned that life has a lot to offer if you are dedicated to staying dedicated to your goals. (Darlene S.)

How not to get too overwhelmed with possessions and to minimize more in life. (Steve S.)

How to heal from cancer and other disorders by taking responsibility for my choices and changes in my lifestyle.(Susan S.)

How to make green drinks that changed my health. WOW! How to make

I-scream that is healthy.  How to dive deep on any subject until it pops with AHA, then apply it to my life. (Robert H.)

Shane didn't conform to the standard path of most people. He followed his heart. He worked as he needed to work and pursued his passions instead. He traveled, climbed mountains, taught people outdoor skills and much more.... he developed a killer veggie drink. He walked gently on this Earth and was an enlightened soul. I know from my own life's journey that it is important to pursue one's passions throughout make time for yourself and to not apologize to anyone for it. He taught how to enjoy this lifetime to the fullest. (Marsha L.)

Learning  from Shane

"You have always been the wind beneath my wings"

From Shelby to her brother Shane


Did you ever know that you have been my hero

And everything I would like to be?

I can fly higher than an eagle

For you have been the wind beneath my wings.


It might have appeared to go unnoticed

But I've got it all here in my heart

I want you to know, I know the truth

I would be nothing without you.


Fly, Fly, so high against the sky

So high, I almost touch the sky

Thank you, Shane, thank you God for being

the wind that flows beneath my wings.


I will love you for eternity.


Playing Guitar 




Happy Hugs

Inputs from those attending Shane's online Celebration of Life

I was excited years ago when I found out that Shane had become an educator. His enthusiasm, wit and intelligence, along with his caring attitude made him a perfect fit for a classroom teacher. Reading his accomplishments, it is obvious that he lived a full, exciting, and healthy life dedicated to serving others. Jack C.

Shane was really a wonderful man.  It was nice to be around Shane at work.  He had a gentle nature, spoke kindly, always wearing a smile, and eager to help.  He helped me on my last project before I retired.  He helped make my final days pleasant.  I enjoyed seeing his daily smile. What a beautiful person!  I know he will be deeply missed especially by family members  and friends so close to him. Ted R

Shane’s path and mine crossed several times and I always enjoyed our conversations.  He was a much better guitar player than I will ever be.  We discovered that in class at Cerro Coso years ago. He was just a genuinely nice guy.  Roy P

I went to school with Shane in Ridgecrest Heights. I feel like I also remember him from being in the GATE program (after school). I moved away from Ridgecrest, so missed any Burroughs memories (I moved back in 2003 but our paths never crossed again). I remember him as smart, funny and a bit of a prankster, fond memories. I remember, in 3rd grade, the class next to mine (Mr. Vaughn’s class looked so fun! And I had Mrs. Dye, strict, and kind) and I vaguely remember him getting to be a camera man for the class-made Mission Impossible movie (that I was jealous I wasn’t a part of). I remember him as energetic, and one of the kids “on your side,” looking back, I’d now call him an easy mediator. Even though I hadn’t seen him in over 30 years, I felt a stab when I read of his passing. Aerann W.

What a fantastic tribute to Shane.  So inspirational! I loved the way you described all his families.  I learned so much about the man he was.  All those mountain peaks he climbed.  All the people whose lives he touched and inspired.  All the different directions he went in his life.   I feel that I know him so much better from visiting this site.  It represented so much effort, creativity and love.  I know I’ll go back to this website and learn so much more. June W.

I was browsing the obituaries and I saw the listing mentioning Shane Smith, or "Mr. Smith". I recall him very fondly as being one of a *very* small handful of substitute teachers at Burroughs High School that the students collectively appreciated. He was very gentle and it was evident he was very intelligent. Although I didn't know him well, I am deeply saddened by his death as he just seemed too young. Upon viewing his more recent photos, he had not aged a day since I had last had him as a substitute (I graduated in 2012, so that gives you an idea of the time frame). Dylan M.

I am saddened to hear about Shane’s passing. My friend Jane texted me a screenshot of your announcement about the virtual celebration of his life that you posted on Facebook. The site is beautifully put together: so many memories of Shane. I think it is the best possible celebration of life one can have in these times. In fact, I am joining the day a week diet.

 He wanted to put together a book with photos and info about mountain peaks. I remember that if we were watching TV anywhere together and commercials would come on, he would identify the location of the filming based on the peaks in the background. 

Shane is the only guy who earnestly gave me a jar of preserved garlic for Valentine’s Day. Being the health food enthusiast he was, I did not express to him how funny and surprising it was to me to receive garlic instead of flowers for Valentine’s Day. It was an honor to spend the short time I did with Shane.

We spent a lot of time at what Shane called his conditioning peaks: Mt. Hauser (elevation 5180 feet) and Mt. Baden Power (elevation 9,356 feet).  After Shane moved away, I continued to hike Baden Powell and Hauser without him. The joy of reaching the peak and seeing the view from the top was his favorite part of hiking, he said. This inspired me to actually reach the top of the mountain to see the view. I suppose that is a metaphor for life. I am grateful for the view at the top with him, but for me; life’s about neither the journey nor the destination. It’s about the company and more than anything, I am grateful for the short time we had his company here on this earth. Anne T.

Shane, the handsome “Dude” that He was brought “good” feelings to all who knew him’ especially George and I.  George so enjoyed  hiking with Shane and playing Racquetball and all the good conversation.  Not to mention valuable information on hiking, racquetball, camping and staying healthy!  Shane might not be with us here on earth, but He is with the Lord—alive and oh so happy.  The entire family has touched us so closely. George and Peggy B.

My heart shattered when I heard the news of Shane’s passing. I was reeling from hearing this for the first time, and I was simultaneously hearing Shane’s voice.

When Shane and I were very young - I think we were in junior high when this happened - he saw me and simply said “Hi Donna! How are you?” - and normally, at that age, I always answered “Fine and you?” - but instead I said “I am not having a very good day Shane, actually.” -without missing a beat, Shane said “Neither am I.”- which absolutely shocked me.

We never showed vulnerability to anyone in those middle school days. At that point in the conversation, we just stared at each other for several seconds and I said “Really?” - Shane nodded - we both laughed - embarrassed, but also realizing we could have that conversation with each other and remain safe on campus.

I saw Shane countless times after that day, but I never forgot this moment. It changed the dynamic between us forever. It is this conversation that I heard, and keep hearing, despite having spoken to Shane so many times over the years.

Donna H. M.

Dear Susan and Family & Shane in Heaven,

I had come across a news clip last Spring (2020) on the net about a Shane Smith and wondered if it was the boy I knew when I was teaching in Ridgecrest. I had tried contacting my last principal, via Facebook last year to see if she had info, but she wasn't sure I was the Mr. Vaughn she knew. Since then, I now communicate with Mrs. Braitwaite frequently.

My oldest daughter knew how much I adored Shane and discovered his Obituary on line a couple of days ago. Shane to me was like a favorite nephew, adopted son, or the boy next door who liked hands on learning. What a go getter he was. He came to visit when we moved to San Diego and again when we moved to Arizona. He did more in 50 years than most anyone I know could do in a hundred. I remember his sister Shelby, what a nice, well mannered caring young lady she was and is now helping and coordinating with his celebration.

Shane is right. We are all one in this Universe.

My daughter also found a quote that an Aerann W. wrote (I'm guessing he & Shane were both in the GATE (Gifted And Talented Extension) told Shane when he was in 3rd grade in Mrs. Dye's class, next to mine, that Mr. Vaughn's class looked like more fun and wanted to be in the "Mission Improbable Movie" we were making. I wished I had known, I would have had any and all that wanted to be part of the movie, even if just as a "walk on" or an extra. I retired from full time teaching since 2013 and now work for a company called Movies By Kids and teach after school and summer camp enrichment classes: Stop Motion Animation with Legos, Clay, and Cut paper and my favorite, live action with a green screen to do special effects.

I often wished the "movie making equipment" (digital video) available now was available back then. I guess both Shane and I were either born too soon or the digital came too late. I just know that Shane will always be a star in my heart here on earth and when we meet again.

Shane was, and still is in memory, such a powerful inspiration.

God Bless You, Family and Friends,

Jim V.

  Thank you for the beautiful tribute to Shane. I had the pleasure of hiking and climbing with Shane a few times over the past few years having done T-Bolt and Clarence King with him as well as others. He was an amazing and gracious person. Always a smile on his face and a good mountaineer. I didn't believe at the time that he actually got into trouble climbing some of the interior Sierra peaks alone as he was always so prepared but so happy to hear that his SPOT worked. (He waited a day for another climber all knowing there was a chance for snow. He was reluctant but he didn’t want to disappoint the other climber). I remember him always driving from Ridgecrest to Edwards to work or somewhere in a nearby desert town.

  I got to hike with 3 generations of Smiths. I did "Fran's Frolics" up to Rabbit many times with Fran.

  And hiking with Steve as I was knocking off the Sierra peaks. I remember one trip out of Mineral King. I felt so good when I beat Steve up one of the peaks as he is so fast and a very strong climber.

  Is there a fourth generation climbing peaks? Maybe I will get a chance to climb with that member of the Smith clan. (Sten, Sky, Kinz ?).

  I felt a deep loss when I heard the news about Shane, on a highway he traveled so much. Thank you for the opportunity to reach out and to share in Shane's tribute.

  Bob Wyka

Shane loved his boss at China Lake and this shows you why. Last year, he moved across the country and remembers Shane on the anniversary of his death....

Hi Susan, it’s Mike Chartier. I wanted you to know I am thinking about you and your family. I think about Shane frequently, but today more so. Hope you are doing well. Sincerely, Mike.

                                                                       Eddie  Vokolek

I remember a very, neatly, hand printed letter that Shane gave to me, when I was teaching Kindergarten, and he was in the 5th grade at Ridgecrest Heights (Faller) Elementary School. We had started filming a movie and he wanted me to make copies and send to parents asking for donations of film for his movie production. The letter gave the name of the store and described in great detail, the exact counter, shelf, location on the shelf and the film type needed. My only thought was: This Guy is gifted, compassionate, and is going places. I shared it with my wife. We both felt that it was among the most heart felt moments we had experienced as teachers.

Jim Vaughn

I thought you might appreciate that Shane has been with me in my reading these last few weeks.  The pandemic has made me keenly aware how bad most of us are at processing grief.  And with all the changes COVID has thrust upon us, there is much to grieve.  So I have been readying myself for these conversations with these books & wondering what direction my work will take me in my next/post-COVID chapter.

I have appreciated having Shane with me as I read these books.  I especially felt him when I read this today:  “Very little separates us (the living & the dead), just the pictures painted by those who don’t understand.  But we are love. Ever present.”  

Shane is very much here with us.

Leslie S. R.  ("Les is More", Shane's name for Leslie)

I am very sorry for your loss! I had the opportunity to hang out with Shane when we were kids. I lived at 628 W. Dolphin;  I believe you lived on either Leyte or Bataan. I met Shane at James Monroe in 7th grade, and had classes together throughout Junior High. Shane used to come by my house and play basketball. We’d get some really good games- Shane was a hard worker and fierce competitor on the court as he’d keep the up-tempo of the game at a sweating fast pace, it was always good being on his team! Some of the neighborhood kids- Wade Boyack, Kris Meraz, Jim Goetz, myself, Shane, and others, got into some good games!


I also remember Shane as the Photographer! He filmed me once (clip by clip) moving down the driveway, down the sidewalk while sitting down and appearing I was driving an invisable car😊. Later in life,  I can only imagine him and his talents becoming an amazing photographer.


Just a couple years ago, I ran into Shane at Michelson Lab. I believe he was actually working in the Photo Wing. I was working in Sidewinder at the time, we’d stop and talk in the hallway from time to time- and talk about the good ol’ days. As well, I’d see him at the Gym sometimes playing basketball and racquetball, and weight lifting with Jim Goetz. Shane was an amazing man. He was always pleasant to be around- especially because of his optimism and wisdom. It’s good to have known Shane! Tony Gonzalez

Thought about Shane today, thought I'd check on his celebration of life. Last time I talked to Shane he asked if I'd be interested in playing doubles in the Haugen Memorial tournament next time it came around. A missed opportunity. 

God Bless, Patric Jenkins "Coach"  

October 2021

In remembrance of your 52nd birthday, Shane, your sister Shelby and I celebrated your birthday at 2:32 pm when you were born on October 4th. We read out of the Grief Book and heard you telling us “thank you, but please make this fun and silly and celebrate me in the same way we had family parties”. It was challenging cause we first had to talk about our deep loss and realizing it will never go away. We will just learn to face it differently. We are trying to move the grief to continual gratitude for your presence in our lives. You were so unique as a personality and soul and we were so close. Thank you for your 50 years of offering so much to all of us.

Your Mom (Mumsie)