Floral 11

Verna Mae (Kiebler) Smith

May 4, 1934 ~ April 2, 2022 (age 87)


Verna Mae (Vernie) Smith, of Charlotte, NC was born May 4, 1934, in Grove City, PA to Louis R. and Glennola D. Kiebler. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Wayne D. (Dorothy) and sister, Gwendolyn K. Yelland (Lloyd) and her husband Kenneth L. Smith. 

She is survived by her sister, Yvonne K. Duhl of CA, brother-in-law, Eugene Smith (Cheryl) of TN and sister-in-law, Dorothy K. Kiebler (Wayne) of PA.  

She is also survived by her sons, Rev. Steven K. Smith (Rebecca), Dana A. Smith, (girlfriend, Angela Snyder) and Jeffrey T. Smith; grandchildren, Davidand Nathan Smith, Sarah Long and step-granddaughter Julie Boumans; great grandchildren, Dreama, Jason, Noah, Madison, Grayson, Andrew and Elizabeth Smith and step great grandchildren, Amelia and Maximus Boumans. 

Vernie grew up on a dairy farm near Grove City, PA.  Her father ran the farm and also taught high school classes; her mother had taught school before she married.  During one season of her childhood,there were four generations living in the farmhouse;she had very fond memories of those times, despite the cozy conditions.  One Christmas, during WWII, the three Kiebler sisters received a doll to share between them and each child received an orange in their stocking, a real luxury in those days. 

As a teenager she entered a dairy cow, that she helped raise, in a 4-H competition.  She dressed in a pretty summer dress for the competition and during the judging stood beside her cow. One of the judges walked by and said, “Nice legs.”  She wasn’t sure whose legs the judge was complimenting but had her suspicions!

While in high school, she first admired her future husband, from across an ice-skating pond. What caught her eye, was that he laced his date’s ice skatesfor her.  Vernie’s skating date had left her to fend for herself, so she set her sights on that cute guy whowas such a gentleman. Both were active in youth group in their churches; the two groups often met together, and this provided a way for the two teenagers to see each other more often. In 1949 her youth group attended a Billy Graham Crusade in Pittsburg, PA where she made a profession of faith in Christ.  

Verna graduated from Grove City High School withthe Class of 1952. She was chosen to receive the Most Dignified Award which she didn’t consider a compliment! After graduation she worked as a secretary at Harshaw’s Insurance and Real Estate firm. During this time, she saved her money and bought her own car and a full set of silver which her family enjoys to this day.  

In 1954, Vernie married her hometown sweetheart, Kenneth L. Smith, who was by then a 2ndLieutenant in the United States Air Force. She moved the family with him when he was stationed in Texas, Louisiana, England, Denmark, New Mexico, Florida, Hawaii and finally in New Mexico again.  While on vacation in Europe, she learned to snow ski and she and Ken both skied into their seventies. Through the many moves their family faithfully attended Christian worship services usually in the AF Base Chapel. 

She kept the home fires burning while Ken served in numerous overseas assignments including Vietnam where he flew one hundred eighty-two combat missions.  Those very stressful fifteen months were the only time that she and her three sons lived near her relatives in Pennsylvania. Half-way through Ken’s Vietnam tour, the USAF gave them two weeks of R and R in Honolulu, HI.  

After Vietnam, Ken was stationed at Hickam AFB in Honolulu. While there, Vernie tried her hand atsome new hobbies, including hula dancing, playing the ukulele and cake decorating, though not at the same time! 

The next duty station was a return to New Mexico. While there, Vernie took up painting, learning both oil and watercolor styles. Some of her paintings still hang in the Smith home.  One day Ken surprised the family with a pet dog, named Rex. Somehow, he had forgotten to talk to his wife about it!  Vernie took this in stride once she saw how much fun her sons had with the dog.

Ken retired from the USAF in 1975 and moved the family to Charlotte, NC. Once again, Vernie adapted to a new culture with a sense of adventure. She worked as a secretary for Thomasboro Presbyterian Churchand Evangel Temple Assembly of God. This season in the Queen City would last the rest of her life.  

One of the gifts Verna gave to others was her ability to actively listen to them; some say that she was the best listener in the world. 

She was an active member of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church where she was honored with the Presbyterian Women’s Life Membership Award. Some of her positions with PW were Moderator, Circle Moderator, Nominating Committee Chairperson and Treasurer. She felt it a special privilege to sing alto with the PC Chancel Choir for many years. Vernie and Ken belonged to a group called the Paw Creek Entertainers and created many wonderful memories of performing duets at retirement centers and hot lunch programs. Part of her role was adding humor to the programs.

For sixty-six years Ken tied the skates for his dignified bride and no doubt admired her nice legs until he died in July 2020. Vernie did the hard work of grieving Ken’s death by leaning on her faith, her family and her friends.  

Early in 2022, Vernie was hospitalized with double pneumonia. Scans also revealed pulmonary fibrosis.  She kept a faith-filled attitude through the long weeks of rehab and another hospitalization, including time in ICU. One night she had a dream of dying, going through a tunnel and into the presence of Jesus Christ.  While she did not see Jesus, she felt his amazing love, peace and a complete absence of fear. Vernie was also aware of family members but didn’t see them.  She returned through the tunnel and woke up; her fear of dying was completely broken!  

Finally, in late March, she made the decision to end curative treatment and enter hospice care. In the last few days of her life, to quote her best friend Joan, she “left nothing unsaid,” with family and friends. She was looking forward to being with Jesus and loved ones again in heaven. With family present, she died peacefully on the evening of April 2, 2022, “in a good old age, old and full of years.”

A service to celebrate her life is scheduled for 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Charlotte. The family will receive friends from 1:00 pm until the service hour, at the church. 

Memorials may be made to the Choir Fund of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church at www.pawcreekpc.org

A video of Vernie’s life can be viewed at www.smithellaneous.com after April 13th. 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 Verna Mae (Kiebler) Smith, please visit our floral store.


April 12, 2022

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Paw Creek Presbyterian Church
7400 Mt. Holly Road
Charlotte, NC 28214

Celebration of Life
April 12, 2022

2:00 PM
Paw Creek Presbyterian Church
7400 Mt. Holly Road
Charlotte, NC 28214

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