Obituary of Christian Joseph Smeets
Christian Joseph Smeets, 68, of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, died on Wednesday, January 17, 2024,
surrounded his loved ones at Mountainside Hospital.
Christian was born in Wilrijk, Belgium, the eldest son of Jules Louis Smeets and Marie-Thérèse
van Vyve. After serving in the Belgian military at NATO headquarters in Brussels and earning the
equivalent of an associate degree in business management, he began his career as a salesman
in the petroleum products industry. A memorable trip to the United States as a teenager stuck
in his mind, so he made his way to the States, living in California, trading crude oil and
petroleum derivatives, in the early 1980s.
While on a flight to New York in October 1986, someone dared him to run the New York City
Marathon. He talked his way into running by speaking with Fred Lebow, bought the running
shoes recommended by Carl Lewis, and completed the marathon in six hours. His only training?
He had accumulated flight miles on his various business trips!
At registration, he met the love of his life, Joan, who was working as a volunteer interpreter.
They were married in May 1987 and were blessed with two children, Jean-Pascal in 1991 and
Lucy Noëlle in 2000. They lived in Belgium for a short time after they were married, then moved
to Brooklyn, New York, and to Glen Ridge, New Jersey, in August 2003.
Changes in the oil industry compelled Christian to change industries as well, from building
management to security services for cash and jewels, to document destruction. He opened
offices in France and Germany while being one of the top ten sales reps domestically, which
earned him a trip to Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. Then changes in management and
ownership influenced another dramatic shift. Using his hands of gold, he started his own
business as a general contractor, to clients in and around the neighboring towns.
Generous to a fault with his time, he was an active volunteer with the New York Road Runner
Club as senior staff for the NYC Marathon for nine years, and on the Board of Directors of the
Latin America Parents Association for more than twenty years.
Above all, Christian was known for his smile, his willingness to talk to anybody—no one was a
stranger—and his eagerness to help, no matter the task, how little or how big. He was
everyone’s big brother!
In addition to his beloved wife, Joan, and his cherished children, Jean-Pascal and Lucy Noëlle, he
will be sorely missed by his siblings, Jacques and his wife, Anne, Geneviève and her husband,
Didier, Anne France, and her husband, Olivier; his nephews and nieces, Geoffroy and his wife,
Amélie, Florence and her husband, Ashraf, Charlotte, Nathalie and her husband, Matti, Olivia,
Alexis, and Sophie; great-nephews Scott, Jack, and Victor; countless cousins, colleagues, clients,
A memorial mass celebrating his life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, www.lls.org, would be