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Dave Smith Has Died

DAVE SMITH, the popular and well-known Ukiah raconteur, bookstore owner, and writer, has died. Friends found him dead in his post-op hospital bed Friday morning as he was recovering from seemingly routine hernia surgery. There will be no services — Smith was an avowed atheist — but an obituary and celebration of his life are planned after friends and family recover from the shocking news. Smith was 80.


  1. michael geniella August 19, 2022

    A community loss. Best thoughts for family and friends.

  2. Marmon August 19, 2022

    Prayers for his friends and family


    • Bruce McEwen August 19, 2022

      You couldn’t have said anything more tactless.

      • Chimney Austin August 19, 2022

        Oh thank the lord, the drunken language cop is here again! Get a grip.

      • Marmon August 20, 2022

        Bruce, are you assuming that all Dave Smith’s friends and family are athirst too? I care about the people he left behind. Losing a love one is hard.


        • Bruce McEwen August 20, 2022

          No: I thought you were being deliberately crass, like you often are. Maybe I was wrong in your case, but a lot of false piety can be used to mock a dead or dying atheist by sanctimonious Christians.

          I thought Dave’s passing was significant because he was a book dealer and in the past ten years, beginning with the demise of Mulligan’s, books have become obsolete.. . not to mention all the kind things Dave did for me when I was a homeless vagabond involking the censure of the conservative Ukians and their ersatz travesty of Christian charity.

          • Mike J August 20, 2022

            There was a period when I bought books and the AVA at his store and he would tell me Bruce Anderson had visited and was looking for YOU (to return).
            I wonder how these stores are really doing… today Village Books.

            BTW, Buddhists are atheists also. He had a great section of books on Buddhism.

            It’s hard to conclude in our position whether consciousness survives via some subtle energetic body…..but over decades of study and investigation by scientists with the division of perceptual studies at the University of Virginia, evidence has developed that likely proves reincarnation (thru the children and birthmark cases). So……Dave might be reading this thread?

            • Joe Hansem August 25, 2022

              Buddhists are neither atheists or non-atheists. They are not obsessed with this issue the way Abrahamic religions and those who rebel against that are. I once asked a Zen Buddhist whether he thought God existed to which he responded:

              Why is that important?
              How do you feel about asking that question?

          • Ron October 11, 2022

            I agree with you Bruce. Dave was such a kind and incredible person.. And he doesn’t need your thoughts and prayers..

      • George Hollister August 20, 2022

        BS, God is the final judge. May he be judged well, Atheist, or otherwise. I am sure his friends and family appreciate the thoughts, however they come.

        • Bruce McEwen August 20, 2022

          Thank goodness he’s not here to hear your absolute dismissal of his beliefs and the obstreperous way you subject his immortal soul to the judgment of your own Almighty & Jealous deity.

        • Mike J August 20, 2022

          I don’t have the answers BUT the anecdotal evidence from people reporting NDEs suggests:
          1). So called judgement, more accurately a review, is enacted by the person dying and not some abstracted Supreme Being.
          2). No one actually reports a God being perceived but instead typically state a feeling of connectedness with all that is.

          While I am no authoritative source, with evidence I can show, certain experiences I’ve had seem to suggest consciousness can energetically exist “out of the body”.

          • Bruce McEwen August 21, 2022

            Since you are confessedly ignorant of what lies on the other side of the river Styx would you please take a couple of coins to Dave’s cast off so he can pay Acheron to ferry him over to the other side; oh, yes, and I’ll sacrifice a fat capon to Asclepius on his behalf, as he has already done as much and more for me… every time I went in his store I began to browse his shelves whilst he and some local wit conversed about whatever, and he was always solicitous to introduce me to important people, along with polishing my character in a way I may have thought shameless flattery if he wasn’t such a sincere man. He put in a good word for me here and there and I will not countenance any disrespect leveled at him; never speak I’ll of the dead, damn your hide. And as to the Smith & Hawken catalogs, the best wristwatch I ever owned was a Hamilton I got from them long before I ever heard of Mendocino County ….

  3. Marmon August 19, 2022

    I’VE been putting off getting a hernia operation until I lose some more weight. This scares the he’ll out of me.


  4. Pat Kittle August 19, 2022

    I’ve known people with the name “Dave Smith,” and read about so many other Dave Smith’s it’s uncanny.

    My condolences to those who were close to this Dave Smith, who seemed like a decent fellow.

  5. Mike Kalantarian August 19, 2022

    A favorite memory, when visiting Ukiah, was dropping in at Mulligans, Dave’s bookstore near the corner of Church & State (actual street names). He had a couple easy chairs up front and the time would comfortably pass in conversation, Dave nursing his perpetual cup of green tea. He knew so many interesting people, and the longer you hung out the more of them you would meet. Mulligans was one of those great social nexus spots, and it was a big loss when it closed. The hole is bigger now that Dave is gone. Rest easy, friend.

  6. LF Mammina August 20, 2022

    “To be of Use”
    Thanks for that
    R.I.P. ole pal

    • Chuck Dunbar August 20, 2022

      I did not know Dave , but I’m struck by his gorgeous face, a lived-in face of wisdom and wit, I think.

  7. Marci Todd Marlton August 20, 2022

    RIP Uncle Dave. You left us with so many wonderful memories of summer boating excursions and countless hours of cooking with you.

    • Georgia Todd August 21, 2022

      I second this…a man of many talents

  8. John Sakowicz August 21, 2022

    To the Editor:

    Dave Smith is dead. Co-Founder of Smith & Hawken. Executive Assistant to Cesar Chavez. Former Owner/Sole Proprietor-Retired at Mulligan Books and Seeds. Dave also had leadership positions in Real Goods, Seeds of Change and co-founded Organic Bouquet, the first national organic floral company.

    “I loved working for Chavez. He was a wonderful man and a very aggressive organizer and because of his dedication to what he was doing he drove those who worked for him hard. However, for us college students it was everything we could hope for working for a person like him. It was 24-7, round the clock, whether we were doing computer programming or were working on a political project in San Francisco. It was a life changing experience for me, organizing the lettuce and grape boycotts,” Dave Smith remembered.

    The compound where Dave Smith worked in La Paz in the Tehachapi Mountains, where Chavez is buried, was declared a national monument by the Obama administration.

    John Sakowicz

  9. William Sheppard . Union, Oregon. August 28, 2022

    It doesn’t matter a whit whether you believe in God or not. It doesn’t matter in the least what your opinion is concerning the creator of the universe. All of us has an appointment to meet with him when we die.

    • Pat Kittle August 28, 2022

      William Sheppard,

      You probably do not realize that you are approximately 99.98% atheist.

      Of the roughly 5,000 religions in the world, you do not believe in 4,999 of them.

      Do the math.

  10. TJ Thrasher September 1, 2022

    May he rest, or not, in whatever after life “place” he believed in. I remember him from my years at Mendo Lake Office. He was a good dude to talk with. He will be missed by many.

    He lived a life.

  11. Hal Zina Bennett September 9, 2022

    Dave’s book TO BE OF USE: THE SEVEN SEEDS OF MEANINGFUL WORK, best express the ideals by which he strove to live his life–and how he inspired so many of us who knew him. Yeah, he often argued Atheism. (To borrow from Shakespeare, I often told him, he “doth protest too much, methinks.) But he nevertheless tells us that he based his book, and the ideals of his life, on the seven cardinal virtues of the early Christian church: faith, hope, justice, temperance, prudence, courage and love. His heroes were the “Creative Action Heroes,” people who through their work made their own lives, and the world around them, a little better. The last lines of his book tell it well:
    “Meaningful work comes alive with love of others as well as ourselves, and that requires you and me.”
    In the end, Dave chose to live by ideals that transcend formal ideologies. Not a bad way to go!

  12. Alice Newton February 17, 2023

    Dave was a dear friend who I didn’t see very often after he moved away from Menlo Park. We were two of three “co-managers” of the Briarpatch Co-op Market, a “community direct charge supplies depot,” a member owned and operated grocery that was part of the Briarpatch Network of small alternative businesses in the Bay Area. After a few years, Dave moved on to co-found Smith & Hawken, and then to other “useful” innovative businesses promoting earth-friendly, sustainable lifestyles. Although we were only in touch occasionally during the last few years, I always enjoyed his Facebook posts. and replied to them. His intellect and honest, friendly approach to life will continue to ripple out through our memories of experiences with him and through his writings.

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