City of Oaks Funeral Home & Cremation

Donald J. Smith

Durham, North Carolina

Age 68.
Died 02/03/2024.

Donald J. Smith
Donald J. Smith died February 3, 2024 at the age of 68 from metastatic bladder cancer. He passed away peacefully in his home in Durham, NC. Don is survived by his wife of 40 years, Lori Hartog Smith; daughters Caitlin Tillberg (Eric), Rachel Pendragon, and Natalie Hartog; siblings, Diane Smith-Greer (Robert), Denise Ferreira (Michael), and Frank Smith; two grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Nancy and Dennis Smith, Sr., and elder brother, Dennis Smith, Jr.

Don was born and raised in Pennsville, NJ and graduated from Pennsville Memorial High School in 1973. After high school, he studied engineering at Cornell University and joined the Marines. He also worked for the Forest Service in Colorado prior to returning to New Jersey. He met his wife, Lori, doing a play at Salem County Community Theater in Carney's Point, NJ, in 1982 and they married in 1983. The two lived in Salem, NJ for several years before moving to Pennsville after the birth of their second child. In 2020, Don and Lori relocated to Durham, NC to be near their grandchildren.

Don worked as a Senior Field Service Engineer & Senior Technical Instructor for Diasonics for 16 years, installing and maintaining medical imaging systems. He traveled extensively throughout the northeast as a specialist and spent time in Australia and Brazil to train employees on new systems. He then decided to change his focus to the rapidly-developing tech sector, first as a web designer and later as a software engineer. He started several businesses during this time, including C.O.O.L.-Net, a web design company that specialized in creating websites for non-profits and small businesses; the North America Drug Co. (with his brothers Frank and Dennis Smith), which provided logistical support for the imports of pharmaceuticals and medical devices; and Black Diamond Services (with brother Dennis Smith), which specialized in developing web applications.

Other than his family, music was Don's greatest passion. He was a skilled classical and jazz guitarist and sang tenor in many church choirs and in duets with Lori. He served as the choir director at First Presbyterian Church in Salem, NJ, and volunteered with the non-profit Guitarists for Good. Don enjoyed reading, especially science fiction and fantasy, and served as a member of the Board of Directors at the Pennsville Public Library from 2010-2020. Outdoors, he enjoyed skiing and golfing. Don attended Westminster Presbyterian Church in Durham, NC .

According to Don's wishes there will be no funeral services. He will be cremated and there will be a celebration of life for friends and family to be held at a future date.

We would like to extend our gratitude to the hospice, oncology, and transplant teams at Duke University Hospital, as well as the transplant team at Temple University Hospital, where Don had a lung transplant in 2018.

Don was a frequent blood donor, helping save hundreds of infants who were undergoing surgery. We encourage those who are able to donate blood in his memory, and to sign up to be an organ donor. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (

For additional information or for service details, please reach out to the family directly.

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City of Oaks Cremation and Funeral Home is a full-service funeral home in Raleigh, serving all of North Carolina and beyond. We provide an alternative to costly funeral homes and every day we help families in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and all over North Carolina make simple, affordable funeral arrangements.

Simply having to reach out to a funeral home can feel overwhelming. Our goal is to simplify the entire funeral home experience and make the process as easy as possible. We hope to eliminate any unnecessary surprises by publishing our total cost and the services we provide directly on our website. All of our obituaries are provided free of charge as a way to help families celebrate and commemorate the lives of their loved ones.

Our Promise

Apples to Apples

Just like all other licensed funeral homes in North Carolina, City of Oaks Cremation, LLC is regulated by the NC Board of Funeral Service.

The same laws that apply to the big corporate funeral homes also apply to the modest independently owned firms like ours. All crematories in North Carolina, regardless of who owns them, are inspected annually by the state and must adhere to the same rules and laws.

Genuine Care

We're committed to providing families within our community unsurpassed service before, during and after the time of loss.

Our staff will provide clear communication to your family through each step as we move forward from the original phone call notifying us of a death to the time we deliver the urn back to your family. We will treat your family with the utmost respect, as we honor the wishes of your loved one.

We promise to make this process affordable and as endurable as possible.

State Wide

Our Funeral Home is located in Wake County NC; however, we provide our services to families throughout the entire State.

Unlike other funeral homes, we don't charge an additional mileage fee. Regardless of what county you live in, we can help your family with making simple, affordable funeral arrangements. From Asheville to Wilmington, we're proud to help families statewide.

Our Services

Direct Cremation


Nobody likes surprise costs added in at the last minute. We guarantee you will not find any hidden charges here. We include everything you need for a simple or direct cremation. Simple, affordable and reliable. We have not changed the cost of our direct cremation service since we opened City of Oaks in 2012.

Cremation with Solidified Remains


We offer the option of choosing how you receive your loved ones remains. Selecting our Direct Cremation with Solidified Remains option is a beautiful way to transform cremated remains into 40-60 “stones” that you can hold.

Cremation with Visitation


City of Oaks Funeral Home and Cremation provides an affordable cremation option with onsite visitation. Nobody likes surprise costs added in at the last minute. We guarantee you will not find any hidden charges here. Simple, affordable and reliable.

Immediate Burial


An immediate burial has the same end result as a traditional burial; however, we have eliminated the extra (sometimes unnecessary) services prior to getting to the cemetery. Not everyone wants an open casket for viewing or a limousine for the family. Despite the term immediate, we can move as fast as you need or as slow as you like. This option simply allows you to save money by eliminating some of the fancy extras at the funeral home.

Traditional Funeral


We offer the same traditional funeral services as the big corporately owned funeral homes in the area; however, we cost about half the amount. You might consider a traditional funeral service if your family is looking for an open casket visitation, a traditional church service or a funeral service in the funeral home's chapel. A traditional funeral service can be altered to fit the needs of your family.

Green Burial


This establishment is one of a select number of funeral homes who meet the criteria for providing green funeral service by the Green Burial Council; a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization working to encourage environmentally sustainability in the field of funeral service. Our Green options allow for a funeral to take place without the use of toxic and non-biodegradable materials/chemicals.



As an alternative to traditional cremation, City of Oaks Funeral Home also offers Aquamation. The Aquamation process, often referred to as alkaline hydrolysis, uses a solution of water and potassium hydroxide to facilitate natural decomposition.

City of Oaks Funeral Home & Cremations