GOODLAND, Kan. -- Lyle L. Smith, a longtime insurance agent and civic leader in Sherman County, Kan., died Sunday (March 30, 2003) at Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital in Denver, Colo.
Mr. Smith was born April 26, 1929, at Beardsley, Kan., the son of Ethel (Lavell) and John J. Smith, and grew up on the family's wheat and milo farm. He graduated from high school in Stratton, and attended McCook Junior College at McCook for one year.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in October of 1950, and was honorably discharged as a yeoman second class in March of 1954, having served in California, Rhode Island and Japan. His commanding officer at the time of his discharge, Lt. E.A. Wagner, wrote that "Smith possesses a quiet, friendly personality and is very well liked by all of his associates. The moral standards he has set for himself are of the highest...He has my unqualified recommendation in whatever venture he undertakes upon his return to civilian life."
On March 25, 1955, he and Marsha C. Wallace were married at McDonald. They would have three children: Tony, Sheila and Joni.
Mr. Smith farmed from 1954 to 1958, raising wheat, corn, cows and sheep. From 1958 to 1962, he worked in various posts with the Boy Scouts of America, first in Omaha, as a district executive and director of training, and then in Hutchinson, Kan., as a district executive. Beginning in 1962, he held management posts at Wiley's department store in Great Bend, Kan., rising to manager for all store and restaurant operations there.
In June 1966, Mr. Smith and his family moved to Goodland, Kan. Mr. Smith became an agent with the New York Life Insurance Company, which he served for more than 30 years. Mr. Smith also sold crop insurance.
It was in Goodland, especially, that Mr. Smith became extensively involved with civic and church activities. He was a member of the Methodist Church in every community he and Marsh lived, and taught Sunday School and served on a number of committees at his final church, the Goodland First United Methodist Church. He also was part of the Stephen Ministers of the church.
Mr. Smith also was elected to the Goodland City Council in 1969, and the Sherman County Board of County Commissioners in 1972, and again in 1976. Mr. Smith continued his involvement with Boy Scouting. In 1992, he ran unsuccessfully for a representative's post to the Kansas State Legislature.
Mr. Smith also was active in shaping health care in Northwest Kansas, serving as a trustee of the Northwest Kansas Regional Medical Center and on the advisory board of the Sherman County Good Samaritan Center. Recently, he also was president of Rural Health Ventures, which sought to provide doctors and other experts to Goodland and Sharon Springs, Kan.
In addition, Mr. Smith served on the board of the Kansas State Quarter Horse Association, and was a well-known horseman for some years.
He was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Goodland Elks Lodge, Goodland Chamber of Commerce, and the booster club Goodland Ambassadors, which he helped start and served as its first president. He also belonged to the Masonic Lodge and its Scottish Rite, and had earlier belonged to the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs.
He is survived by his wife, Marsha C. Smith, at home in Goodland; a son, Tony and his wife, Tina of Guymon, Okla.; and daughters, Joni Smith of Goodland and Sheila and husband, Douglas Cunningham of Milford, Pa. His grandchildren, on whom he doted, are Taos, Tucson and Tekoa Smith, and Olivia, Benjamin and Sophie Cunningham. In addition, survivors include one sister, Marlene Schoonover, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; her former husband, Leo Schoonover of Scott City, Kan.; one brother, Duane Smith and his wife, Verla of Burlington, Colo.; two sisters-in-law, Verda Smith of Hobbs, N.M. and Kay Smith Howard of Fairfield, Mont.; and several nieces and nephews. Lyle and Marsha's beloved dog, Jake, also remains at home.
Preceding him in death were his parents; and three brothers, Eldon, John and Veryl.
The funeral was today, 1:30 p.m. (MST) at the First United Methodist Church in Goodland with Pastor Janet Hernandez officiating. Burial was to follow at the McDonald Cemetery, 4:30 p.m. (CST) at McDonald.
Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church in Goodland, or to Boy Scout Troop 142 of Goodland; all may be sent to Koons Funeral Home, 211 North Main, Goodland, KS 67735 for further distribution.