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Juvenile probation officer touched many lives

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

At 5 foot 5 inches, juvenile probation officer Richard E. Smith Jr. worked out in his basement to prepare himself for the occasional wayward youth who decided to tussle with him.

On other occasions, grateful students would invite him to their high school graduation.

“I said, ‘Rich, you have more of an influence on people than you think,' ” his wife, Maureen Smith, 61, recalled telling him.

Mr. Smith, formerly of Wilkinsburg, died of pancreatic cancer on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at home in Edgewood. He was 64.

He was born Dec. 1, 1949, to Frances and Richard E. Smith Sr.

His dad worked at Westinghouse in Turtle Creek, and his mother was a homemaker.

He played center on the football team at Wilkinsburg High School.

“I was walking down the hall one day and something clicked, and I told my friends, ‘That's the guy I'm going to marry,' which a lot of people don't believe in, but I do,” said his wife, the former Maureen O'Leary. She was then 15.

“He was quiet. He was shy. He always reminded me of a teddy bear,” she continued. “I think that's what I fell in love with.”

Mr. Smith received an associate degree in general studies from Community College of Allegheny County and a bachelor's degree in criminology from the University of Pittsburgh. He worked for 40 years for the Allegheny County Juvenile Probation System as a probation officer and drug and alcohol technician.

“A lot of kids thought they could get away with stuff with him. They may have thought he was a pushover, but he wasn't,” his wife said. “It usually only took once, and they realized they weren't going to be able to take him.”

He enjoyed playing baseball and softball and coaching his sons' sports teams. He liked to bowl but not as well as his wife.

One of his favorite pastimes was attending concerts of the Rolling Stones, a rock group that he saw whenever they came to Pittsburgh, sometimes with one of his children.

His daughter, Kristen Smith of Ross, called her father strict and protective.

“He would always want to meet our friends. Whenever my sister and I had a date, my dad had to meet the guy first before we could go out with him,” she said.

In addition to his wife and daughter Kristen, survivors include sons Richard Smith of South Windsor, Conn., and Bernie Smith of Plum; daughter Amanda Allebach of Wilkins; and four grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in Jobe Funeral Home and Crematory Inc. at the corner of Beatty Road and Route 48 North, Monroeville,

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday in St. James Church in Wilkinsburg. Interment will follow in Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to Forbes Hospice, 2570 Haymaker Road, Monroeville, PA 15146.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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