Dr. Robert “Doc” L. Smeton, DDS, an 82-year resident of California and a 59-year resident of Twentynine Palms, lost his longtime battle with cancer in Spokane, Washington, on Sept. 27, 2018. He was 84 years old.
The son of Walter and Mildred Smeton, he was born Aug. 5, 1934, in Baltimore, Maryland.
After graduating from the USC School of Dentistry, Doc and his new bride “Patty” headed to Twentynine Palms (she thought he wanted to go, and he thought she wanted to go), where he became Twentynine Palms’ hometown dentist for 30 years (1959-1989). In those days it was not uncommon to make house calls in the middle of the night.
Doc for 14 years made numerous trips to rural villages in Mexico to volunteer dental services as a missionary.
He was a college instructor at Loma Linda School of Dentistry and Copper Mountain College (recognized as “the instructor who had the most influence on students’ success”), where he taught the art of local gold mining to many a future prospector.
He retired after 30 years.
The community benefited greatly as a result of Dr. Smeton’s active community involvement, including his service as president of Rotary International of Twentynine Palms and his membership (1964-1972) with the Coaches Association; during that time he coached many a youth basketball team and assisted with the organization of one of the longest running basketball tournaments. This year’s tourney being the 60th year.
Doc was a member of the Twentynine Palms park board that was instrumental in establishing the Roadrunner Dunes golf course, where he played in the very first foursome. He also participated in Career Days at the local schools for over 30 years.
He was a charter member of the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, where you can find many mining artifacts that he generously donated to this day.
He was an avid LA sports fan for 70-plus years.
A noted authority on famous desert landscape artist John W. Hilton, he was known for sharing his knowledge of Hilton’s life and paintings with the community.
Other than serving the Lord and studying the Bible, what made Doc happiest was gold mining, instructing or prospecting. He loved being outdoors digging for gold.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Walter and Mildred Smeton, and his wife of many years, Patricia C. Smeton.
He is survived by his brothers, Charles (Tanya) and Walter (Esther) Smeton, his sister, Millie Zucker, his sons, David Thomas (Terry), Jeffrey Alan and Kenneth Troy Smeton, his three grandchildren, Robert (Heather) and Stephen Smeton and Christine (Adam) Fox, and his seven great-grandchildren, Nathaniel and Isaiah Smeton, Nick and Alex Comello, Lily Fox and Elijah and Kaydence Smeton.
A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Oasis Community Church, 6631 Utah Trail in Twentynine Palms. The family request that all who knew Doc come out and share a memory.
Doc was a family man who loved the Lord and was a man of his word. His wit, generosity, friendship and knowledge will be missed by many.