Wyvern A. Smith, 90

Wyvern Ashbel Smith

HAVERHILL, MASS. — Wyvern Ashbel Smith, 90, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, from cardiac failure, at the High Pointe House in Haverhill, Mass. Wyvern was also known to relatives as Brud or Uncle Brud.

Wyvern was born at home on Kennard Street in Bridgton, on Feb. 26, 1927. He was the second son of Grace Delores (Witham) Smith and Carroll Kennard Smith.

As a child, Wyvern and his family lived in Bridgton and, for a short time, in Harrison, where his father, an auto mechanic, worked at a garage at the foot of Long Lake. In Bridgton, Wyvern attended Bridgton High School, where he enjoyed his Latin classes, playing in the band, and playing basketball before graduating in 1945. Through his teen years, he learned to play the drums, piano, fiddle, and accordion, often playing with a band at local dances from Sweden to Naples and beyond. During the summers, he worked hard — hitchhiking to Ohio at age 14 for a job, and later spending a summer helping with the construction of the Liberty ships at the South Portland shipyards. There, he said, shifts were 12-hours-on, 12-hours-off, and each bunk was shared by two workers with alternating shifts.

As a senior in high school, Wyvern enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in order to fight in WW II, following his brother Carleton. Wyvern went straight from graduation to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. While there, the war in the Pacific theatre ended. Wyvern was in the 6th Marine Division, which was sent to Tsingtao, China, to assist Chiang Kai-shek’s government in the surrender and disarmament of Japanese troops. Wyvern found China to be fascinating, and often spoke of how interesting his time there was.

After his discharge as a Corporal from the U.S. Marines, Wyvern moved to Portland and started working with National Cash Register (NCR). And it was in Portland, while living at the YMCA, he proposed to his high school sweetheart, Verna A. Martin, then living at the YWCA. The two were married in 1949, and moved to Waterville to start a family. While there, NCR “temporarily” transferred them to Massachusetts — a move that lasted for more than 50 years. Wyvern and Verna moved to Stoneham, Mass., and there they started their family, eventually welcoming four children.

Many family and friends will remember the Smith homes in Stoneham, first on Montvale Ave., and then on Cedar Ave. Wyvern and Verna’s home was a warm and friendly place for a visit or a stopover for those traveling to and from the Boston area. Many will also remember the old Cedar Ave. house: a huge Victorian on a hill that Wyvern painstakingly restored over many decades, doing nearly all the plumbing, wiring, construction, and painting of the house and barn himself.

Through all the years, Wyvern used his spare time to pursue his music and his art. He could often be found playing the piano in the evenings, or sitting in his “art room,” playing guitar, mandolin, or other instruments, or drawing and painting. For a while he did the sports cartoons for the local newspaper. He taught himself to use oil, acrylic, alkyd, and even egg tempera paint. He especially enjoyed drawing and painting landscapes, birds, and portraits of family and friends, and often entered local art exhibits. Wyvern achieved notable success when he won two hunting stamp contests: the 1983 and the 1986 Archery-Primitive Firearms Season (Massachusetts) stamps.

Through all the years Wyvern never lost his love for Maine, and especially the Bridgton area. He and his brother built a home for his parents, a home that became a favorite destination for his children and grandchildren, allowing the next generations to learn to love Maine.

In 2004 Wyvern and Verna moved to Hudson, N.H., to be closer to two daughters. There they enjoyed their final years, gardening, visiting family, and with Wyvern as always playing his music and painting.

Wyvern was predeceased by his wife, Verna Annette (Martin) Smith, and by his eldest daughter, Nola Raye Della-Monica, in 2014. He was also predeceased by his brother, Carleton Kennard Smith, in 2006. He is survived by his son, Jeffrey Wyvern Smith of San Diego, Calif.; and two daughters: Nona Ann Smith of New York, N.Y., and Cathleen M. Ristaino, and her husband, Mark L. Ristaino, of Londonderry, N.H.; a son-in-law, Glenn Della-Monica of Hudson, N.H.; and a sister-in-law, Beverly Martin of Harrison. He is also survived by three grandchildren: Mark A. Ristaino and Natasha N. Ristaino of Londonderry, N.H., and Ashley V. Smith of San Diego, Calif. In addition, he is survived by many cousins, nephews, and nieces.

A memorial service will be held at Chandler Funeral Home, 8 Elm Street, Bridgton, at 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 9. All are invited to a light luncheon to be served at a nearby restaurant immediately after the service. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to the Bridgton Historical Society, PO Box 44, Bridgton, ME 04009. Words of condolence and tribute may be shared at www.chandlerfunerals.com

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