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Jim Smith, beloved Ann Arbor community member and co-owner of Washtenaw Dairy, dies at 63

Jim Smith, co-owner of Washtenaw Dairy and a treasured member of the Ann Arbor community, passed away Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Affectionately referred to as “Big Jim,” Smith ran the daily operations of the popular Ann Arbor coffee, donuts, and ice cream spot with his business partner, Doug Raab.

Ann Arbor will remember Jim as an immensely generous, fun and friendly man who created a community within his small ice cream and donut shop. 

“Jim was a great guy, he always had something funny to say,” Raab told Michigan Radio. “He was so generous, too, with a big heart.”

His support of local organizations and businesses, providing boxes of the shop’s famous fried-cake doughnuts or tubs of ice cream whenever asked, will remain a large part of Jim's warm-hearted legacy. 

In a 2012 interview with the Ann Arbor News, Jim reflected on his relationship with the community, saying, “We support the community, because the community supports us. That’s why it has worked all these years. It adds up on your bottom line, but these same people come down with their families and buy ice cream. They've come for years and supported us.”

Jim ran the Washtenaw Dairy business with a fun and friendly attitude that will not be forgotten in his loss.

“For the last year, George and Ron have been running things and they have been doing it in the way that Jim would have wanted," Doug Raab told Michigan Radio. "And we will keep going on and doing things in the way that Jim would have wanted.”

Smith is survived by his wife of 23 years, Candice Lee Cannon. A gathering of family and friends will be held on Friday, February 12 from 2-5 P.M. at the Staffan-Mitchell Funeral Home, Chelsea. Expressions of sympathy may be made to Arbor Hospice, Ann Arbor Kiwanis, or Chelsea American Legion. 

-- Amelia Zak, Michigan Radio Newsroom