The Valley® family and people all across the irrigation industry are mourning the recent death of Andy Smith. Andy was taken from us far too early by an aggressive cancer that struck quickly. He passed on Thursday, May 14, in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Andy joined Valley Irrigation in July 2013, but those of us who worked with him felt we had known him much longer. Andy had a way of touching people, turning colleagues into instant friends. His bright smile, infectious laugh and extreme intelligence made every encounter memorable.
Andy had great passion for agriculture, irrigation and any project he became involved in. He worked as our director of technology adoption and was instrumental in the launch of Valley Irrigation Exchange™, the first product connecting precision irrigation data to the other farm management software systems. He worked tirelessly with potential OEM partners to build relationships and create software integration. He developed keen insight on data sharing and data security, and their impact on growers.
Prior to joining Valley, Andy had more than 28 years of experience in the irrigation industry. A gifted orator, he made hundreds of public appearances across the country promoting the merits of mechanized irrigation. He owned a small irrigation business before becoming a lobbyist for the Irrigation Association and also worked for Reinke Irrigation. He was involved with the American Society of Irrigation Consultants, the American Farm Bureau, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and many other organizations.
The Valley family didn't have much time to get to know Andy - just a couple of years - yet his impact was profound:
I will miss Andy’s friendship and counsel. His fun attitude and laser beam focus on the goals we set were what endeared him to me. I’ll miss the late night text messages with a funny picture or joke. Andy’s love of irrigation was only outmatched by his profound love of his wife, Kim, and his daughter, Madison. I will miss my friend. - Matt Ondrejko, Vice President of Global Marketing
It seemed like Andy knew everyone in the irrigation industry or was at least connected to them in some way. All the people I ever met that knew him seemed to consider him a close friend and not just a business acquaintance. - Andy Carritt, Director of Information Technology
In the very short time that I had the honor of working with Andy he became that rare combination of trusted ally, fount of knowledge and close, dear friend. - John Campbell, Advanced Technology Product Manager
Andy was an amazing man. I worked closely with Andy and I admired his ability to make friends with everyone he met. Andy brightened a room when he entered and people opened up to him almost instantly. He will be greatly missed by many, and I will definitely miss him. I will remember him always, as will everyone who was lucky enough to meet him. - Brett Sears, Project Manager
I had the privilege of meeting Andy eight years ago. We were working together on a California project. He was a competitor and yet I found him to be warm and open and full of ideas. He was one of those people that never had a bad day, never complained or ran down the other guy. He was a team player every time we met. His great smile, good words and pleasant way will be missed by many. - Ray Batten, Large Grower Relations
What I will always remember about Andy was his astounding intellect and passion for the agriculture industry. He was such a joy to work with, always willing to go the extra mile with a smile on his face. Andy was a great man. I was lucky to know him and I will never forget him. - Jill Zwiener, Brand Manager
Andy was a guy that was not just friend or coworker, but an incredible asset to the irrigation industry on a national level. Not only was he awesome at that, he was also a father. I recall one time we were on conference call together and his daughter, Maddie, was on the call with us as well. He texted me during the call and said that he worked a lot, but being a father came first. I admired him for that. He will be greatly missed in the irrigation industry and greatly missed as a friend. - Tyler Fields, Project Sales Manager, Valley Water Management Andy was a person who enriched the lives of those around him. I felt as though I had known him for years. Being around him was comfortable and fun. I will miss his wisdom, his compassion and his presence. - Shannon Peterson, Marketing Content Editor The online tributes to Andy during his brief illness are testaments to his character and life:
- Andy was such a dynamic, amazing, hilarious and passionate guy...it's really tough to accept that he is gone. A bright light, turned off.
- He was a great guy and a pillar of the irrigation industry … He will be missed.
- Andy and I only worked a few years together in different associations but I always relied on him for information and thoughtful advice. He always put in 110 percent in everything he did and stuck to his convictions. I enjoyed his humor and stories. I know the industry will miss him as a professional and a person.
- The measure of a man is his impact on so many people and the love of his family, friends and fellow man. Great is his influence on so many. No one can doubt his commitment, sacrifice and passion for his God, wife and daughter, friends, and the industry of irrigation. His strength, tenacity and superior intellect have inspired so many and frustrated the foolish. His wit and humor mixed with optimism persisted, whether it was storming or a moment of paradise. Never afraid, always loyal, stubborn for justices, always available, never meeting a stranger and always remembered the names of the people that crossed his path in life.
- He was a great man and will be missed greatly by everyone who was fortunate enough to know him. I'll always remember him for his huge heart and a smile to match.
- Andy's passion for his beliefs have been a model for many.
- Andy, you have always been one of my favorite people in my life. Your smile and sense of humor is infectious. Your easy-going, aw-shucks attitude is very Midwestern. Your tenacity on irrigation issues have changed, for the better, a lot of minds. Your influence will always be felt and your legacy will never be forgotten.
- Andy you are a wonderful person, inside and out. I've know you for several years and the first time we came face to face, I got the biggest bear hug in my life.
- Andy has always been a bright light that everyone gravitated toward. Although I haven't seen him in many years, I've interacted with him on Facebook, and it is so very refreshing to see that he kept that same lighthearted personality even as an adult. He is truly one of the good guys.
- I've known Andy for over 30 years. We we're co-workers and friends. He was always a person that would stand up for what is right and help the other guy before himself. During a tough day he could always find some humor in it, getting a laugh out of everyone.
Rest in peace, Andy. You will be missed by all who crossed your path.