Kenneth LaMoine Smith of Charlotte passed awayon Thursday, July 23, 2020.
Mr. Smith had four great loves in his life: his wife Verna of 66 years, flying airplanes, performing music, and his dogs, Ring and Tippi.
His love of airplanes started early. When he was ten years old, he asked for leftover wood from a local lumber company so that he could construct his own model airplanes using a saw, lathe and pocketknife. One of those airplanes is still on display in the family home.
At the age of twelve, he was delighted to discover that a small airplane had made an emergency landing in his parent’s hayfield. Due to muddy fields, the airplane couldn’t be moved for many weeks. Ken would frequently visit the plane, study each part, and sit in the cockpit pretending like he was the pilot.
In his mid-teens, he decided that sitting in the cockpit wasn’t enough and he wanted to take flying lessons. Since flying lessons were a whopping five dollars each, he landed a job retrieving lost golf balls in order to pay for them.
When he was about be drafted, he heard that the Air Force was accepting airmen to apply for pilot training. After a week of intensive tests, he was accepted into the aviation cadet program. His squadron was the first to accept airmen rather than college graduates into the program.
Nineteen fifty-four was an important year for him as he graduated from pilot training, was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant, and married his high school sweetheart, Verna Mae Kiebler.
He served in many places around the world, from Turkey to Thailand. He also spent thirteen months in Vietnam where he flew 181 combat missions.
During Mr. Smith’s twenty-three years in the Air Force, he completed twenty-four ocean crossingswith nine of them in a single seat plane. Each of those flights required in-flight refueling.
He loved water skiing and also snow-skied until he was seventy-five years old. He was proud of getting the free lift tickets reserved for the 70+ skiing crowd.
Following retirement from the Air Force and after spending several years teaching ROTC and managing a food distribution warehouse, he had more time to pursue his great love of singing. He and Vernie sang together at retirement homes and in the Paw Creek church choir.
Mr. Smith never met a spotlight he didn’t like and he would sing at the drop of a hat, anywhere,anytime. His Irish tenor always brought smiles to everyone who heard it.
He leaves behind him a legacy of faith, determination, adventure, generosity, love for family, and dedicated service to the United States of America.
At the breaking of dawn on Wednesday, July 23,2020, Kenneth L. Smith, the man who loved the sky, slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God.*
*from High Flight, by John Magee, Jr.
Ken Smith was born in Harrisville, PA on January 31, 1931, the son of Hazel and George Smith. In addition to his parents, Mr. Smith was preceded in death by his sisters, Virginia Smith Weber and Betty Smith Rayner.
Mr. Smith is survived by his wife, Verna KieblerSmith; his children, Steven Kever Smith (Rebecca), Dana Alan Smith, and Jeffrey Todd Smith; his brother, Eugene Smith (Cheryl); his grandchildren, David Alan Smith (Alyson), Nathan Andrew Smith (Meagan), Sarah Elizabeth Smith, and Julie HarrillBoumans (Kurt); eight great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The Smith family would like to especially thank Henrietta Smith for loving service above and beyond the call of duty, and Courtland Terrace for their compassionate care.
Services for Mr. Smith will be private. Memorials may be made to Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, 7400 Mount Holly Rd., Charlotte, NC 28214 or to Gaston Hospice by visiting www.gastonhospice.org.
Condolence messages may be sent to the family by visiting www.woodlawnfuneral.org. Woodlawn Funeral Home of Mount Holly is serving the Smith family.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Kenneth LaMoine Smith, please visit our floral store.
Paw Creek Presbyterian Church
7400 Mount Holly Road, Charlotte NC 28214
258 E. Garrison Blvd, Gastonia NC 28054