Pastor Emeritus O. Gene Smith was released from earthly bonds on November 5, 2015. His last few weeks were spent enjoying visits from his family and friends, and reminiscing about all the fun times together. He was ready to move on and spoke of it with joy. As he had all his life he kept everyone laughing and looking on the positive side of things. As he grew more forgetful his favorite comment was "my forgetter is working better all the time."
He was born in Pontiac, Michigan, on Dec. 11, 1926 the son of Laurence and Christine Smith. He married Wanda Wilson of Coshocton, Ohio, on June 4, 1948?67 years of marriage.
It was love at first sight and never waned.
Rev. Smith received his Bachelor's degree from Asbury College, A Master of Theology and Masters in Counseling from Christian Theological Seminary. After graduating from the Salvation Army Training College in Chicago he and his wife served 5 years in the Salvation Army in Chicago, Kansas, and Mishawaka, Indiana. They traveled for 2 years in an RV while serving as evangelists with Rev. Smith preaching, playing the piano and his accordion. He entered the Methodist ministry in 1955 and had pastorates in Claypool, Orland, Anderson, Fort Wayne, Elwood, Kokomo, Summitville, and Muncie, Indiana. He served as president of the Ministerial Association in Mishawaka, Anderson, Elwood, and Summitville and was president of the Lions Club in Summitville. He served on the Board of Directors of Family Service in Kokomo and on the Community Action Council of Madison County.
While serving Park Place United Methodist Church in Anderson (1962-1967) he was very active in the community.
He served on the Redbud Committee, was president of the Ministerial Association and president of the Anderson Association of Churches. He began the chaplaincy program at Community Hospital in Anderson and the protestant chaplaincy program at Mercy Hospital in Elwood. He was a counselor at centers in Anderson, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis.
After retiring in 1991 he and Wanda moved to Frankton. While there he served interim pastorates in Frankton, Joyce Chapel, Park Place and Alexandria First UMC. They also joined a Good Sam Camping Club and became involved in activities. He was asked to be Chaplain of the Rolling Wheels Club and later appointed State Chaplain for the Indiana Good Sam. He conducted worship services at all the state rallies, retiring from that in 2005.
Rev Gene and Wanda loved traveling. In 1982 they went to the Holy Land and Egypt. In 1984 they took a group of people to the Passion Play at Oberammergau.
In 1998 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by going to their 50th state, Hawaii. They then sold their home in Frankton and moved into an RV to live full time and travel. They traveled all over the U.S. as well as Canada and Mexico, spending summers mostly in the Anderson area. In 2006 they bought a home in Chesterfield and sold the big RV to buy a small one for occasional travel. After acquiring a small mobile home in Ellenton, Florida, they sold the small RV and have been spending winters there.
Since 2006 he has been Pastor of Visitation at Cross Roads United Methodist Church, retiring again as Pastor Emeritus in July, 2014.
In addition to his wife, Rev. Smith is survived by four daughters: Aleta(Skip) Goodwin, Lanetta Stewart, Luwana (Greg) Hobbs, all in the Anderson area and Velinda (Kevin) Davis from Ellijay, Georgia. He has seven grandchildren: Amy (Derek) Howie, Danette(Angel) Barboza, Scott Goodwin, Mark Moody, Vaughn (Chasity) McWilliams Moody, Dawn (Chris) Lee, Gwen (Eric) Bostard. He has 5 great grandchildren: Tayler Glass, Zeke Howie, Malea Howie, Colt and Hunter Lee, plus a new baby on the way! He is survived by a brother, Chris Smith of Michigan. He also is survived by his favorite pet, Tillijane.
His parents and three brothers preceded him in death.
Rev. Smith chose cremation and his cremains will be placed in the prayer walk at Cross Roads United Methodist Church where a blue spruce tree (his favorite) will be planted over them Visitation will take place at the church from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 15, followed by a memorial service. Rev. John Hackney will be in charge.
Memorial gifts may be directed to the Cross Roads United Methodist Church/Building Fund.