William (Bill) Francis Smith, Jr. passed from this life into eternal life on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at the age of 84.
Bill was born on June 30, 1935 in Glenshaw, PA, to William Sr. (RIP 2002) and Marie (RIP 1980) (McGrath) Smith. He had a loved sister Barbara (RIP 1993) Lowndes. He attended North Catholic High School, Class of 1951 and honorably served in the United States Marine Corps. from 1954-1957. He then earned a Bachelor of Science in Business/Marketing from Duquesne University in 1960 on his GI Bill.
He married Margaret Ann (Peggy) Coyne on June 14, 1958 and together they had five children: Sue (KC) Graham of Butler, PA; Dan (Susie) Smith of Hubertus, WI; Kathy (Gary) Heller of New Berlin, WI; Meg Best of Roswell, GA and Buddy Smith (RIP 1975). They have ten grandchildren: Matthew Walsh, Brian Walsh, Amy Walsh, Jason Smith, Michael Smith, Katrina Heller, Rebecca Kisley, Angela Heller, Dylan Best and Gavin Best. They have four great-grandchildren: Aylin Walsh, Corra Walsh, Anna Julia Smith and Leo Kisley.
Bill was a family man and a devout Catholic. He was an altar boy and attended 16 years of Catholic education, later to become an usher for many years at their parish Holy Redeemer in Palm City, FL. He thrived at helping others and making all feel welcome. He cherished spending time with his children and grandchildren whenever he could—and insisted on being with each one when they visited Disney World for the first time.
His personality was larger than life. “What can I say, I’m an extrovert,” he’d comment. He could light up a room and always found the good in everyone. He said his Irish roots gave him the gift of storytelling, sprinkled with humor. He strove to make people laugh and had a good joke or funny story for every topic.
Bill had a colorful, successful career in the beverage industry, which began at Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1957. There he worked as a night watchman, cashier, order taker, receiving clerk and office manager in the bottling department before being named Assistant Bottling Superintendent in 1960.
In December 1964, Bill joined National Brewing Company in Baltimore, MD. During the next 11 years he was Superintendent of Packaging for the Southern division in Miami, FL, and Manager of Operations at the Florida facility. Bill joined the Miller Brewing Company in 1973 as General Superintendent of Packaging in Milwaukee, WI. In 1975, Bill rejoined Pittsburgh Brewing Company to serve as Director of Packaging, Director of Production and Plant Operations, and Production Vice President before being elected President in August 1978. He is credited with saving the company from “flat sales to foamy profits.” Business Week featured Bill after his company’s turnaround. He became a familiar face in the company’s beer commercials and billboards and through his regular appearances at local taverns and events throughout the community doing what he liked most—visiting with old and new friends and enjoying and promoting Iron City Beer and IC Light everywhere he went. He commissioned special edition beer cans for the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and the Pitt Panthers. Bill’s charisma, free spirit and friendliness made him a highly successful executive and a recipient of the 1980 Pittsburgh Man of the Year Business Award.
In 1981, Bill became President and Chief Executive Officer of Pabst Brewing Company, with a mission to combat the company’s struggles and turn the business around. He became the face of Pabst; promoting on tv commercials and billboards. Bill steered the company past seven takeover attempts, legal battles, and labor troubles and fought for Pabst to remain in the Midwest as an independent company but ultimately resigned in 1985 after the brewery was taken over by an investor.
Bill then formed MTX Inc. with his close colleague and friend and purchased the Joseph Huber Brewing Company in Monroe, WI, producer of Augsburger beer. He worked with the Master Brewers Association of America and the Brewers and Beverage Packaging Association and served on several boards–including Marquette University, Cardinal Stritch University, and Sargento. Bill was one of the executives featured in “The Man and His Cigar” ad campaign for Dom Diego; full-page ads that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, and other popular magazines. Bill also graced the pages of Fortune magazine, Brewer’s Digest, AdWeek, The New York Times, and other newspapers regularly.
After retiring in 1989, Bill and Peggy moved to Palm City, FL, where they spent many happy years until Peggy’s sad passing in 2016.
We’ll always remember Bill for his love of life, people, and of course, sports. He felt honored with opportunities to golf—twice—at the Bing Cosby National Pro-Am Golf Championship at Pebble Beach alongside former U.S. Presidents and celebrities. He showcased the Pabst racecar at Indy500 and was able to take his father to the event. Bill also loved representing Pabst at the Pabst rodeos at the State Fair, and many lakefront festivals.
Bill and Peggy attended several SuperBowl games and World Series. Bill played volleyball, racquetball and bowled on teams while a member of the Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAA). They were avid golfers at Wildwood Country Club (Hampton, PA), Ozaukee Country Club (Mequon, WI), and Harbor Ridge Country Club (Palm City, FL). They both had had ‘hole-in-ones’. Their Sundays were often: breakfast, mass, then golf 18.
They shared an equal love for boating and fishing that started in Miami in the 1960s. While living near Lake Michigan, Bill proudly became the captain of “The Beer Guy,” the first of many boats. Captain Bill would later become the Commodore of the Yacht Club at Harbor Ridge. Bill and Peggy enjoyed spending summers island-hopping in the Bahamas with their fellow boater friends and family.
The past three years, Bill lived in Roswell, GA at the Georgian Lakeside assisted living home. He found new friends and a sweet lady friend that kept him smiling.
The world was a better place because of Bill. His spirit will live on through the laughter of his family and all those that knew and loved him dearly.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests considering donations to the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.
Visitation: Saturday, November 9 from 9-11:30 a.m. at Neely Funeral Home, 2208 Mt. Royal Blvd., Glenshaw PA 15116
Mass: Saturday, November 9 at 12:30 p.m. at St. Ursula Catholic Church, 3937 Kirk Ave, Allison Park, PA 15101
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