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Bruce Neil Smead, 59, retired pastor of Presbyterian churches

Bruce Neil Smead, who served local Presbyterian churches as pastor and interim pastor from 1965 to 1989, died of cancer Tuesday at home in Seminole. He was 59.

Smead was born in New Blaine, Ark., and came here in 1965 from Sarasota to become minister of the newly developed Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church, which he served for 22 years. During that time, he oversaw a building program that included a new sanctuary, administration and music buildings and an educational wing.

Harriet Osinga, a charter member of that church, described Smead as "an excellent preacher, a good, caring pastor and a gifted administrator. We had smooth going (while he was minister)."

After retiring from Lake Seminole in 1987, Smead served as interim pastor of Highland Presbyterian Church of Largo and First Presbyterian Church of Dunedin.

"He was very instrumental in developing a renovation program for the church," said the Rev. Merla Marsh of First Presbyterian of Dunedin, where Smead served from August 1988 to January 1989.

"He was best remembered for his children's sermons that were an Aesop's Fables type of stories," she said. "Every Sunday, he gave children's sermons, and they were wonderful."

A collection of the stories, about birds, fish and other animals living in a community by the ocean, was published in 1991 in a book titled Life in Oceanside, Modern Day Fables for God's Children.

Smead is survived by his wife, Eleanor, who said he took early retirement at age 55 to fulfill a lifelong dream to establish a plant nursery. He was an owner of the Smead Nursery in Seminole.

"He enjoyed growing things, and always had a garden," Mrs. Smead said. "He grew up on a farm, and had a green thumb."

"He supplied plantings and small trees for new Presbyterian churches in the area that were under our presbytery," said Ms. Osinga. "He always amazed me because he had different interests. One was lapidary. He worked with stones. He had a beautiful collection of stones, and made jewelry."

Smead also served congregations at First Presbyterian Church of Newland, N.C., and Northminster Church, Sarasota.

Other survivors include three daughters, Suzanne Hartmann, Marshall, Va., and Deborah Smead and Jane Smead, both of Florida; his parents, Lavanche and Robert G. Smead, Lubbock, Texas; and a sister, Barbara Hogan, Texas. Arrangements are by Lewis W. Mohn Funeral Homes, Seminole. Call 393-3481.

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