BEACH PARK, Ill. (STMW) — Philip Smith will be remembered as a man who could build almost anything.

Family members reflected fondly Saturday on the north suburban Beach Park resident, who died at age 62 on Friday morning when his vehicle collided with a school bus at the intersection of Route 173 and Kilbourne Road — west of Zion — in unincorporated Newport Township. Smith died at the scene after his yellow Jeep Wrangler was struck by a school bus bound for Newport Elementary School in Wadsworth.

There were no fatalities among the children on the bus.

On Saturday, members of Smith’s family released the following statement about a man they proudly called “an entrepreneur.”

“An entrepreneur, Philip Smith, 62, of Beach Park, had owned several businesses, primarily in construction, and he could build nearly anything.

Smith built two planes and a glider at his home, and he was building another plane. He confidently flew his two-seater planes. He took his brother-in-law for his first and only plane ride in one of his small home-built aircraft. Smith was hands-on and outdoorsy, and he always had a new interest or project. At one time, he built three pigeon coops for homing pigeons in his backyard. He was a regular at the hardware store, his family said, then added, “all of them.” Smith, who grew up in Beach Park and Winthrop Harbor, built several homes in Zion and his own home in Beach Park. He had many varied interests and liked to read all kinds of magazines.

“He was a great cook, and he enjoyed preparing meals for his family and friends. Although those who knew him called him by the nickname “Grump” because of his taciturn nature, they also said he was the first to offer an ‘Atta boy’ or ‘Good job, kid.’ He spoke his mind, saying what needed to be said in a few words, but also was thoughtful. He carefully chose gifts and often surprised loved ones with a magazine subscription or something else he knew they would enjoy.

“Smith was married for 19 years to Lisa (Davis) Smith, formerly of Antioch, and the father of two daughters, Tracy Paulsen and Cassidy Smith, and the grandfather of Stephanie Smith. He enjoyed spending time with his girls doing active things.

“Smith planned to attend the Jeep Jamboree in Aspen, Colorado, in August. He was driving a distinctive yellow Jeep he bought and customized for his wife as a Christmas present, but he had built his own custom Jeep for the Jamboree.

“The family appreciates the concerns and condolences expressed by family and friends during this difficult time.”

The Sheriff’s Office said Friday it was working with the Major Crash Assistance Team to evaluate the accident.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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