Jiri Smetana

Jiri Jan Smetana

Sunday, January 31st, 1937 - Saturday, February 29th, 2020
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Jiri Jan Smetana, 83, of Hygiene, Colorado, passed away on February 29, 2020. He was born in Praha, Czechoslovakia, on January 31, 1937, and grew up in Libcice nad Vltavou. While he considered himself an average student, everyone else knew he was an exceptional athlete. He played team handball in the town of Stribro for the Czech Army and continued on to play in a semi-professional league. At the age of 30, while playing handball in a tournament in Sweden, he met up with his older brother and was given the rare opportunity to defect to the West. Never returning to the team bus, he first fled to Denmark, and then obtained asylum in West Germany. In 1968, he immigrated to the Bay Area in California via New York.

Jiri met his future wife, Tanya, at a Christmas Party in 1968. He proposed to her at the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco in 1969, and they married in Walnut Creek, California, on September 5, 1970. They moved from Northern California to San Diego for four years before moving to Hygiene, Colorado, in 1974, with 1-year old baby Jiri Jr. Two years later their son Robert was born. Jiri and Tanya were sworn in as United States citizens in Denver, Colorado, in 1977, and were always extremely proud to be American citizens.

Jiri had completed trade school in Czechoslovakia and became a master machine lathe operator. He worked at various machine shops in California and Colorado, and co-owned N.S. Machining and Engineering Co. in Longmont, supporting commercial, aerospace and military parts production. He was known for his exceptional craftsmanship and precision. Supervisors would comment on his eye for detail, accuracy, work ethic and easy-going nature. He also supported Tanya’s business, Hairport Salon Ltd, as the Vice President.

After retiring at the age of 65, Jiri and his wife Tanya were able to live life fully and traveled to 80 countries. He loved to learn about history and enjoyed watching his favorite soccer team Real Madrid. He joyfully whistled while constantly being busy working around their home, tending the yard, cutting firewood and keeping his cars immaculately clean. People were drawn to his magnetic personality and he loved to tell jokes. Jiri had a joyful sense of humor and was truly the life of the party. Each summer he made margaritas and gave his Olympic dive performance much to the humor and delight of his family. He very much enjoyed the company of other Czech immigrants who came to America to make it their adopted homeland.

He is survived by his eldest son Jiri Jr. (Hayley) and grandchildren Shelby, Kinley and Colt of Texas, and his younger son Robert (Melissa) and grandson Kingston of Colorado. He is preceded in death by Tanya, his beloved wife of 49 years, Robert’s (Melissa’s) daughter Emma and his older brother Vladimir.

A memorial service celebrating the lives of Jiri and Tanya will be held Thursday, March 12th at 2:00 pm in the Ahlberg Funeral Chapel, 326 Terry St, Longmont, Colorado. It is requested any gifted flowers are to be sent to Ahlberg on the morning of March 12th.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Thursday, March 12th, 2020 | 2:00pm
    Thursday, March 12th, 2020 2:00pm
    Ahlberg Funeral Chapel
    326 Terry St.
    LONGMONT, CO 80501
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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