Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Smalley pursued wide interests


Patrick Smalley

A funeral will be held in Anchorage Sept. 25 for Dr. Patrick Smalley, who operated a private dental practice in Haines since 2001. Smalley died in Haines Sept. 9. He was 64.

Smalley’s stepson, Ryan Smalley of Haines, said the memorial will be held there because his father wished to be buried beside his wife, Francis Smalley, who died in 2012 and is interred there.

Patrick Smalley was born June 20, 1949, the sixth of seven children. His father, Robert Byrom Smalley, was a family practice doctor and town father in Willits, Calif. known as “Dr. Bob.” His mother, Iris Smalley, was a nurse.

According to brother Mike Kelsey of Willits, Patrick was an avid hunter and fisherman who dreamed of living in Southeast Alaska. He was also a handyman who enjoyed working wood and metal. “He was brilliant,” Kelsey said.

Smalley served briefly in the U.S. Marine Corps and received a medical discharge for fractured feet. Lifelong friend Dave Busby of San Diego, a retired sergeant major in the Corps who joined the service at the same time Smalley enlisted, said foot injuries weren’t rare in the first weeks of training, due to long days and hard boots. But Smalley was determined to tough it out and his injuries became severe, Busby said.

Smalley returned home and sold real estate for several years, when northern California was being discovered by the hippie generation. “He knew his way around that part of California, and with his integrity and knowledge, people sought him out. He didn’t have to work at it,” Busby said.

Smalley enrolled at University of California-Berkeley, where he earned an anthropology degree in 1987 and was inducted into the scholarly fraternity Phi Beta Kappa, an achievement he was particularly proud of, family members said. He twice suspended his studies to care for his aging parents, Busby said.

In 1995, Smalley earned his dental degree from University of California-San Francisco’s medical school.

Ryan Smalley said his stepfather took high-level science and pre-med courses and that his decision to pursue dentistry was based on his science knowledge, his interest in the medical field and the practical use of dentistry. “He took classes in a variety of subjects he was interested in. He was lightly versed in a lot of subjects,” his son said, including photography and history.

Smalley was working as an associate on contract in Anchorage when he met Francis Lourdes Garcia, a dental assistant, in 1998. The couple moved to Haines and married in 2000, taking over the dental practice of Dr. Kirt Touchstone. Smalley and Francis wanted their own practice and a place to raise her two children, Ryan Smalley said.

Patrick Smalley was a member of the Elks Lodge, American Legion and Port Chilkoot Bible Church, but he was a reserved and private person, friends and family said.

Smalley enjoyed reading history and kept up on current events and politics, recently sending a long email to Busby about the Middle East. Busby said Smalley was a stickler for precise language who thoroughly researched issues and made strong arguments. “He made me think, and I liked that about him.”

Smalley made his own knives and restored old axes. He also collected and repaired old watches. “Things that were mechanical and required fine motor control, he was attracted to,” Busby said.

Smalley also was a cook who kept a house full of cookbooks, taught his children to make fancy dishes and labored over recipes for meals like pasta puttanesca. “He’d get so passionate about things. He had to know everything about them. Then once he figured out how something worked, he’d move on to the next thing,” Busby said.

Smalley also enjoyed live theater and opera, which he took in during trips to visit Busby in San Diego. “I became his culture coach. He’d try to coincide his trips with the opera season. We’d go to nice restaurants. I’d try to pick out something new and exciting... He told me he didn’t know he liked (live entertainment) so much until he lived where there was none.”

Smalley took great pride in his family and friends, Busby said. “He must have grown up in Lake Wobegone because everybody he knew was exceptional. He was that kind of guy.”

Smalley is survived by siblings Jo Bernard Smalley of Reno, Nev., R. Gayle Smalley of San Jose, Calif., Janet Wiggins of Moraga, Calif., Lloyd M. Kelsey of Willits and Lawrence Smalley of Redding, Calif., and by children Ryan Smalley of Haines and Amanda Smalley of Anchorage. He was preceded in death by wife Francis Smalley, by brother Robert Byrom Smalley, Jr., and by his parents.

An account for the Smalley children has been established at the Haines branch of First National Bank Alaska.