Vernie Smith’s journey of ninety-six years and ten months began on July 24, 1919 at Goltry, Oklahoma. His birth completed Henry and Susie Schmidt Smith’s family of three sons. His final breath was on May 24, 2016, at Bethel Home, Montezuma, ending a lifespan that witnessed many changes and experiences.
His childhood and adolescent years were spent in rural Ringwood, Oklahoma. His mechanical aptitude and bent for fixing things became apparent early on. Experiencing the Great Depression left its mark on Dad’s life-view until the end. He was known as a good mechanic, which provided his livelihood throughout his life.
Vernie’s father and mother were not converted as their boys were growing up. When Dad was nineteen years of age he began to sense the call of God to salvation, his mother leading the way shortly before him. Upon receiving the forgiveness of sins he was baptized by Min. Frank Wenger on April 6, 1939 at Goltry, Oklahoma. In later life he once stated that as far as he knew he had never been out of the grace of God since his conversion.
In the early years of World War II Dad was assigned to a camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a conscientious objector. During a one-week leave, Dad came home and married our mother, Irene Koehn, at Fairview, Oklahoma, on October 31, 1943. Upon the war’s ending, Dad was released and they settled in Isabella, Oklahoma.
As a young couple with small children, Dad and Mother felt the call to give time on the Navajo Reservation in mission service. They entered this service in July 1956 and the salvation of the Navajo people became the love of their lives. This compelling interest possessed them until the mid 1970’s and 80’s. The friendships and heart-ties that were made with Navajos and fellow workers were close and enduring.
Dad was a person of simple tastes and values. His emotional makeup was not subject to great highs or deep lows. As a result, the lack of outstanding religious experiences sometimes troubled him, but his simple faith and free conscience was his anchor. Several weeks ago he was able to say that he longed to go, and wanted to see Jesus first of all.
Blessed are marriages when they are loyal, loving and cooperative, such as Dad and Mother’s. Their union continually blest those around them, whether on the mission field or at home at Goltry, or at Bethel Home in Montezuma. They entered Bethel Home in May of 2007, but by no means did they lay down their service. They often visited other residents of the Home. Mother was taken from Dad’s presence by death on December 18, 2014, which accelerated a rapid decline in Dad’s situation.
Those left behind are three daughters: Judy, and husband, Gladwin Koehn, Macon, Mississippi; Saundra, and husband, Franklin Koehn, Scott City; and Carlotta, and husband, Dennis Koehn, Lahoma, Oklahoma; ten grandchildren, twenty great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandson. Preceding him in death were his wife, his parents and his two siblings
Funeral service will be held at Pleasant View Mennonite Church in Goltry, Oklahoma on Friday, May 27, 2016 at 2:00 PM with Ministers Patrick Koehn and Randy Schmidt presiding. Burial will follow at Karoma Cemetery in Goltry . Visitation will be at Bethel Home in Montezuma on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Thoughts and memories may be shared in the online guest book at www.swaimfuneralhome.com.