John K. “Jack” Smith
October 10, 1930 - May 12, 2022
Jack Smith, age 91, of Newark DE, died peacefully after a brief illness on Thursday, May 12, 2022 on what would have been the 90th birthday of his spouse of 71 years, Gertrude (Fickus) Smith, who died on Dec. 2, 2021. His death concludes a family legacy that reached back to the Civil War in just two generations. His father, Samuel C. Smith was sixty-five years old when Jack was born in Elkton, MD on October 10, 1930. His mother was Mary Covey Moffitt, whose father had a much older brother who died in the Civil War.
From a young age Jack was an industrious go-getter, at first out of necessity since his father died in 1939. During World War II he helped his mother run a boarding house. Orphaned at the age of 17, Jack became employed in the automobile parts business where he continued to work for 48 years. He was a natural salesman, possessed of an affable manner, a quirky sense of humor (he had a quip for all occasions), and a sharp mind. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of trucks and their parts. In retirement, for several years he organized an annual antique truck show. Having sold parts for most of these trucks, he could point out the flaws in each model.
In addition to this career, he proudly served in the National Guard and Army Reserves for 38 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He had admirable leadership skills, combining discipline with compassion for his soldiers, who respected him. He was a lifelong student of military history, especially World War II.
Jack is survived by his son, John (Kim) of Bethlehem PA; daughters, Katy Ferrero of Newark DE, and JoAnn Gardner (Alan) of Wilmington, DE. For the past several years his daughters selflessly committed themselves to allowing their parents to stay at home as their health deteriorated. Jack spent only a short time in the hospital, where the wonderful staff of the Accent Hospice unit at Christiana Hospital cared for him.
He cherished our usually chaotic family gatherings, especially our annual time at the Delaware seashore, where there were always small children with whom to splash in the surf and dig in the sand. During his retirement years Jack had many adventures with his grandchildren: Michael, Rick, Anna, Louisa, Nick and Lexie. As they grew to maturity, he was very proud of all of them, especially when they got jobs. Those lean years of the Great Depression haunted him all of his life. Those grandchildren have now added five great grandchildren to the family tree: Ben, Delaney, Brayden, Nechi and Milo. All of us will fondly carry a memory of Dad, or Pop Pop, who instilled in us a love of learning, encouraged us to do good things with our lives, and always made us laugh with is bad jokes.
All services will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Jack’s memory to the St. Nicholas Episcopal Church Food Pantry, 10 Old Newark Rd. Newark, DE 19713.