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An assemblage of family and friends which exceeded the capacity of Valley United Methodist Church attested to the character of Donald LeRoy Smith during funeral services held Saturday morning.

The son of Robert E. and Shirley (Smith) Smith, he was born Aug. 20, 1955, at Goessel.  He grew up in the Marion community, attended local schools, and was a star athlete when he graduated from Marion High School in 1973.

His football coach during his senior year, Bill Pickering, remained a life-long friend and fishing companion. And Don, or "Smitty" as he was called by a multitude of friends, continue to support the MHS athletic programs.

While in high school he participated in the vocational-technical school program at Emporia, specializing in auto mechanics.

He was employed by Lynn's Truck and Tractor, Co-Op Grain and Supply, Zerger Construction, and eventually purchased and operated Smitty's Service Station in Marion. He was noted for his "full service" which extended beyond expectations. Many in Marion trusted no one but "Smitty" with their car or truck.
He remained in business until January of this year, when he had to sell-out due to health problems.
Those problems, leukemia, were fought valiantly by Smitty with the full support of the community. Drives were made, bone marrow examined, and dinners served to help him.

His fight received a great deal of publicity in the regional press.  Friends hoped he had won the battle, when the dreaded disease again reared its ugly head. Nothing more could be done. But, as usual, he met adversity with logic.

He was noted for his support of Marion athletic teams, his ability as a master fisherman, and his enjoyment of attending Kansas City Chiefs football games, holding season tickets for nearly 20 years.

Smitty was an Explorer Scout, achieving the God and Country Award.
He was a loving father who supported his children in all their activities. His lesson to them was that they must strive to do their best, and complete anything they started.

He was married to Neva Oller, his high school sweetheart, June 5, 1976, at Valley United Methodist Church. They enjoyed more than 24 years of life as a couple. They had two children, Steffanie and Eric. Their family enjoyed and treasured many moments, including some great vacations and family gatherings.
Survivors include his wife, Neva, of the home; daughter, Steffanie, a student at Kansas State University, Manhattan; Eric, a sophomore at Marion High School; his parents, Bob and Shirley Smith of Marion; a brother, Terry Smith and his wife, Sandy, and sons Ben and Dusty, of Sterling, Va.; his mother-in-law, Pat Oller of Marion; two sisters-in-law; and a multitude of loyal friends.

He died Oct. 31, 2000, at St Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

The Rev. Tony Horsley of Valley United Methodist Church officiated at the funeral service, delivering words of assurance. Jeff Martin, M.D., Lawrence, a close friend and fishing partner of Smitty for many years, delivered a heartfelt and eloquently worded eulogy.

Casket bearers were Bill Pickering, Grant Thierolf, Dr. Jeff Martin, Mike Ewert, Dr. Bruce Skiles, and Charles Kannady.

Greg Carlson, the vocal soloist, sang "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and "You've Got a Friend."
Laura Williams was the organist and accompanist.
Burial was in Marion Cemetery.

Memorial funds have been established in his name to benefit the Marion High School Track and the Leukemia Society of America.
Transcribed and Contributed by Kenneth Thomas

Last Updated:  Thursday, November 10, 2005 02:58:01

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