Jack D. Smith, 88, of Elkhart, passed away on Thursday, November 11, 2021 at Elkhart General Hospital.
Jack Donald Smith, age 88, of Elkhart, Indiana passed away on Veterans Day, November 11, 2021. One of four children, Jack was born on October 22, 1933 to John Henry Smith and Uva Hazel (Simms) Smith in Frankton, Indiana. He was preceded in death by both his parents, a sister Shirley (Strukel) and two brothers Arnold (Carla) and Ronnie (Lehoma). He is survived by his wife Cornelia "Connie" Maxine (Robinette) Smith and their four children. Randy (Judi) Robinette, Kathy (Michael) Kuzniewicz, Jackie (David) Stokely and Linda (Fred) Koeppel, along with 12 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 2 great, great grandchildren.
From a very young age, Jack had a deep desire to serve his country. At age 15, he tricked his mother into signing a consent note and joined the National Guard. The Guard needed volunteers to drive a load of men to Camp Atterbury in Indianapolis. A young and eager Jack was happy to help. However, when he arrived at his destination, his age was discovered, and he was promptly sent home. At age 18, Jack didn’t skip a beat and signed back up for the Guard and then the Army. He was a Private in the 45th infantry. He bravely served his country in the Korean War from 1951 to 1954, for which he later received a Purple Heart Award. After completing his tour, he boarded a ship that was headed back to the United States. Always looking for the next adventure, Jack decided to try his luck in a coin toss with his friend, Connie’s brother, Marshall. Heads he got to meet his friend's sister, tails he didn't. Jack won that coin toss and three weeks later, on September 12, 1953, Jack married his sweetheart. Together, they started a new adventure and celebrated 68 years of marriage. The couple created a lifetime of memories with their four children.
Jack was a force of nature who was determined to provide for his family and give them the life he felt they deserved. He worked hard at the New York Central Railroad for over 15 years. His values, dedication and work ethic made him the perfect role model for his entire family. They meant more to him than anything else in the world. He was extremely proud of every one of them. You could often find him quietly observing his family with arms crossed against his chest, a twinkle in his eye, and a smirk on his face. Jack went out of his way to make sure each and everyone in his family felt loved and special. He even created an original song that he sang when greeting each of his grandchildren.
Jack never lost his spirit of adventure and you can see that in the hobbies he chose. Not only was he a devoted NASCAR fan, but he also raced stock cars and midget cars in the 50’s and 60’s. He dabbled in commercial scuba diving, searching for sunken ships, metal detecting, panning for gold, and shrimp boating. Jack enjoyed collecting war memorabilia, historical artifacts, and researched American history and genealogy in depth. Most recently, Jack was proud of being on the Indians Billiard Club, Pool League and won many awards that led him and his team to the National Amateur Tournament in Las Vegas. Although he enjoyed playing pool it was the comradery of his fellow pool mates that he treasured the most.
Jack was a proud and active member of the D.A.V. Chapter 19 and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was also a Master Mason belonging to Tyrian Lodge #12 and a 32 Degree Mason belonging to the South Bend Valley Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
He was truly an exceptional and rare man to walk this earth, a legend in his own right. May his memory be eternal and forever in our hearts.
Visitation will be held Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at Billings Funeral Home, 812 Baldwin St., Elkhart, IN.
A Funeral Service for Jack will be held Thursday, November 18, 2021 at 11:00am with visitation 1 hour prior from 10:00am-11:00am in the funeral home. A graveside service with military honors will follow at Prairie Street Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, Memorial Contributions may be directed to The Humane Society of Elkhart County, 54687 C.R. 19, Bristol, IN 46507.
For those that wish to send a condolence, share a memory or order flowers, may do so at www.billingsfuneralhome.com
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