Joseph Smith of Nisswa, who with his brother, Fred, owned parking lots and a service station in downtown Minneapolis, died Nov. 26 in Prior Lake.
The longtime Minneapolis resident was 91.
Since they were kids growing up in Columbia Heights, the duo played, worked and got into mischief together.
They began their paper route at 4 a.m., and their father, a widowed railroad engineer, would be out of town for days at a time.
As teens, they would ride the rails, even going to the West Coast on their father's train a couple of times.
They got into big trouble when he finally caught them.
After Smith graduated from Columbia Heights High School, he found work at a downtown Minneapolis parking lot.
Color blind, he would memorize license plate numbers to find customers' cars. His brother joined him on the job.
Later, they would manage the parking lot of the downtown eatery Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale. In the late 1930s, they bought their first lot at the old Minneapolis Auditorium, with room for 40 cars, charging 15 cents a day.
The job demanded that Joseph Smith work long hours at least six days a week.
His daughter Kathy Larson of Prior Lake, who once helped with the bookkeeping, said he passed along his strong work ethic to his children, who pitched in at the family business.
"He was such an awesome dad," said Larson, adding that he took the family water skiing on weekends and during his one-week annual vacation.
In 1947 he and his brother started Smith Brothers Service, a service station and parking lot at 7th Street and 5th Avenue S. in Minneapolis. They eventually owned 28 lots.
In 1960, they closed the station and built a new one at 409 S. 9th St. in Minneapolis.
Fred died in 1996.
Four parking lots and the service station remain in the family, said Joseph Smith's son, Joe Jr. of Bloomington.
"He was just a person's person, a mender of fences," said his son. "He kept the help and customers happy."
Smith was a leader of the Zuhrah Shrine Horsemen in the 1960s and led the group in the Aquatennial Parade. When they passed the Smiths' business, family and friends were gathered to cheer them on. He once also led the horsemen at a Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, Calif., and was an active supporter of the Twin Cities Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis.
Around 1980, he retired to the lake home near Nisswa that he built in 1969 and spent his time teaching his grandchildren to fish.
"He believed in the American dream, coming right out of high school," said his granddaughter Kristine Smith of Stillwater.
His wife, MaryRita, died in 1985.
He remarried in 1986. His wife, Pauline, died in 2000.
In addition to son Joe and daughter Kathy, he is survived by his other daughters, Rosalyn Smith of Inver Grove Heights, Barb Smith of Lakeville, Linda Wogstad of Minneapolis; 15 grandchildren; 34 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 4 p.m. Dec. 14 in Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, 3611 N. Berens Road NW., Prior Lake. Friends may gather at 3 p.m. at the church.