I didn’t realize how deeply he felt about the majesty of nature until he spoke at a dinner.

Written by Ryan Smith the grandson of former U.S. Congressman Neal Smith, who passed away recently at the age of 101.

It is difficult to put into words what it’s like growing up with Neal Smith as your granddad. As a young kid it was a little odd to me that strangers would come up to him, shake his hand, and share their support. At that time, I was more impressed with the candy stash he kept in the pickup than the projects he worked on in Congress.

It took some growing up to understand that more than the projects he brought to Iowa, people appreciated that he wanted to make things better and he stayed grounded; he didn’t get swept up in the fame that can come with politics.

While his many accomplishments and how the depression and World War II shaped his service — all of which are important — will be talked about in the media, his relationship with nature had the most influence on me.



Looking for a way to remember my grandfather? May I suggest a visit Saylorville Lake, Lake Red Rock, the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, walk the Neal Smith Trail, or that you just find a park nearby. Spend some time in nature and observe. Just sit there. Be with your thoughts until your thoughts fade and you realize you are a part of nature. He would have liked that.

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