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Smith remembered for making difference in Ceres
• Cancer claims Mae Hensley Jr. High employee, former CHS coach
Scotty Smith dies
Scotty Smith passed away at the age of 55 on April 12. Smith graduated from Ceres High School in 1986. He coached sports at his alma mater and worked at Mae Hensley Jr. High.

The Ceres community is mourning the loss of Scotty Smith.

Remembered for his bright smile, distinct laugh, kindness, selflessness and making a difference in the city he grew up in, Smith passed away from cancer at the age of 55 during a family trip to Washington on April 12.

He was surrounded by loved ones and friends.

Smith, a 1986 Ceres High School (CHS) grad, was supposed to throw out the first pitch at a University of Washington-UCLA softball game in March in Seattle. But there was a change in plans after he was admitted to the University of Washington Medical Center.

Smith’s niece Nicole “Sis” Bates was a three-time All-American shortstop with the Huskies. She was named Washington’s director of player development in June of 2023.

“He was an amazing man,” said Jennifer Smith, Scotty’s wife. “You wouldn’t meet a better person. You couldn’t help but love him. He had a huge heart. He would do just about anything for anyone. He put others’ needs above his own. His smile lit up every room he walked into.”

“I was thankful we got to spend quality family time together,” said Jimmy Bates, Smith’s nephew. “The care he got in Seattle was incredible from the nurses to the doctors. They were trying to find a way to get him back home.”

Jimmy had a special bond with Scotty.

Smith took Bates to his first Major League Baseball game during his childhood.

They watched the San Francisco Giants play the San Diego Padres.

“Growing up, my mom worked seasonal,” said Bates, a 2014 CHS grad who currently teaches math and coaches softball and football at Central Valley High School. “In the summers, we’d be at my grandmas or uncles a lot. He took me to my first baseball game. I was in the first grade. We took the BART there. I got to go down the slide. It’s a memory I hold near and dear to my heart.”

“He was my mom’s brother,” he added. “He’s been there for me since day one. I learned a lot from him—my patience and cool demeanor. He always had a positive outlook on things. He was that person that always showed up for you no matter the circumstances. He had an ability to make people feel good and they belonged to the group. He made sure kids knew somebody cared about them. He loved being everyone’s uncle. He was a special human being.”

Bret Durossette, John Bussard, Mike Corsaut and Brett Johnson were all friends and colleagues of Smith.

Durossette and Smith were classmates at Mae Hensley Jr. High and Ceres High.

They played football together at CHS and Modesto Junior College.

A longtime P.E. teacher at Ceres High, Durossette welcomed Smith to his Bulldogs’ football coaching staff in 2005. Durossette retired from coaching in 2017.

“I met Scotty in the seventh grade,” he said. “We grew up together. He was one of my best friends my whole life. We spent everything together for 40-something years. He was like a brother. He was an amazing guy. Nobody was better than Scotty. He’d do anything for you. He loved so many people.”

Durossette and his wife Angela visited Smith at the University of Washington Medical Center on April 11. 

“We were able to see him and have great conversations,” said Bret Durossette.

Bussard and Smith coached football, boys golf and travel baseball together.

Their families also vacationed together.

“When I first came to Ceres, we both coached football together,” said Bussard, Ceres High’s athletic director. “We bonded almost immediately. He was one of my best friends. He was like a member of my family. He did a lot for me and my kids. He’d give you the shirt off his back. He’d do anything for you.”

Smith, Corsaut and Johnson all coached football together at Ceres High.

Smith and Corsaut worked together at Mae Hensley Jr. High.

“He was one of my really good friends,” said Corsaut, longtime leader of Ceres High’s softball program. “He was always there for me. I was there when he was baptized five to six years ago. His whole life changed because of his wife. He became an even better person.” 

“It’s sad that he’s gone,” Corsaut added. “But he’s not in pain anymore. He left an amazing legacy. If more people were like Scotty, this world would be a better place. He was such a fixture in Ceres. He went to Ceres schools. He worked there. So many people will say good things about him. Everything about him was unique. He was one of a kind. He was a huge influence on my son Luke. Luke wanted to quit football during hell week freshmen year. Scotty talked him into sticking it out. He was such a good mentor and coach to him. That’s what he did with everybody. He had a huge impact. He was so instrumental in all of our lives. He was such a great man. He loved people. It was an honor to coach with him and be his friend. I’m so grateful I got to know him.”

“He’s one of the first people I met when I started coaching,” said Johnson, Ceres High’s current football head coach and a longtime health and P.E. teacher at the school. “He always had a smile on his face. He was the easiest person to make friends with. We played softball together. He was fun to be around. He was one of those guys you could always count on. He was the same person no matter what. When he was working at Mae Hensley, the kids liked and respected him because of the relationships he established with them. He wanted to give back to his city.”

Brad Bussard and Gary Condit spoke fondly of their former coach.

Bussard, a 2015 Ceres High grad, played football for Smith.

Bussard teaches P.E. and coaches baseball and football at Central Valley High School.

“A lot of memories,” Brad Bussard said. “A lot of laughs. We had a lot of good times together. He was a great guy. He was a vital part of the Ceres community. He was all about doing what he could for the kids. He always brought the best out of people. He always made people laugh. He was someone you strive to be.”

Condit, a 2019 CHS grad, played boys golf for Smith and John Bussard.

The Bulldogs claimed their third straight Western Athletic Conference championship and made their eighth consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance under their guidance in 2018.

“Scotty went to school with both my parents,” Condit said. “He played football and golf with my dad. I always thought of him as a family friend. I went to Mae Hensley and he was the disciplinarian administrator there. He always had a smile on his face. He was somebody you could always talk to. He was easy going. He made himself available. He was a Ceres guy. He cemented himself as one of Ceres High’s great coaches and educators. He was involved for so many years. He had a great impact on students.”

Smith and his family moved from Modesto to Ceres when he was 12 years old.

He’s lived here for the majority of his life.

Scotty met Jennifer at Ceres High School.

“He was a senior when I was a freshman,” she said. “I played sports with his sister Michelle who was a junior.”

Scotty and Jennifer got married in 2016. 

They have two children.

“He never used the word “step” when talking about our daughters,” Jennifer said. 

When asked to describe Scotty as a person, Jennifer said: “Loving, loyal, honest, genuine, always encouraging, loved to laugh.”

Smith started working for Ceres Unified School District in 2008.

He’s been an administrative assistant at Mae Hensley Jr. High for the past 10 years (2014-24). He was a campus supervisor for three years (2011-14). 

He was employed as a student supervision assistant at Hidahl Elementary for three years (2008-11).

He was named CUSD’s Administrative Assistant of the Year during the 2019-20 school year.

Smith was hired as a walk-on football coach at Ceres High in 2005.

He coached at all three levels.

When Ceres High’s boys golf team needed a coach, Smith volunteered.

He stopped coaching and volunteering with the CHS Athletic Booster Club due to health issues.

“It was very difficult for him to make that decision,” Jennifer said. “He loved coaching alongside his friends and helping improve the lives of kids on and off the field and being involved.”

Smith was a member of the Ceres Lions Club for 14 years.