Vernon F. Smith
Friday, February 10, 1933
Date of Death:
Thursday, May 9, 2019
86 years old
Vernon F. Smith
Vernon Fredrick Smith, age 86, of Rochester, MN, passed away peacefully Thursday, May 9, 2019 at Seasons Hospice House in Rochester.
Vernon was born February 10, 1933 in Rochester, to Valentine and Ella (Ranfranz) Smith. He graduated 10th grade in 1949, and then enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17. He served for 3 years, from April 1950 to May 14, 1953, obtaining the rank of Sergeant in the Army 11th Airborne Division “The Angels” Medical Battalion. He started with Basic Training in California, then went to Fort Campbell, KY. His duties were to drive ambulance from the dispensary to the hospital, and to haul casualties from the drop zone to the hospital. He then went to Clarksville, TN to complete Jump School. Although he served during the Korean war, he was never deployed overseas. They kept him stateside to train other soldiers.
Prior to his enlistment, at the age of 8 he worked for 2 years at Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store, then as a bus boy at the Zumbro Hotel Cafeteria for 2 years. When he returned home from the service in 1953 he worked for Rochester Dairy for 3 months. His brother-in-law Les trained him to do carpentry work, and helped him get a job. He then worked at Max Gas Station and Gopher Airport at the same time. He continued his career at the airport (about 20 years with Gopher, and 20 years with Mayo) for about 44 years. He drove truck, and hauled airplane engines around the states. He also worked maintenance and for the line department, which was taking care of and fueling airplanes as they came in. He cared for the terminal and cleared snow from the runways.
Vernon had a pilot’s license, and enjoyed taking his kids up in small airplanes over Rochester. He also owned a 1947 Indian motorcycle, which his children enjoyed riding with him.
In 1950, he met Terry Christensen and they were married in 1955 at the Little Brown Church in Iowa. In the mid 1970s, Terry and Vernon moved out of Rochester to Lake Zumbro where they built their dream home and retired. Vernon turned that property into a park. He brought in old fashioned light poles from downtown Rochester. The lake property was his pride and joy where shared many fun times and good memories with his family. He loved working in the yard, and was always fixing things. He also enjoyed boating, water skiing, riding the four wheeler, and his motorcycle. His favorite things to talk about were the history of Rochester, old cars and planes.
Vernon was a wonderful husband and father. He always took care of his family, and they knew they could count on him. He will be truly missed.
Vernon is preceded in death by his parents; granddaughter, Sherri Kiehne; six sisters, and three brothers.
Vernon is survived by his two children, Pamela Kiehne of Grand Meadow, and Wayne Smith of Rochester; seven grandchildren, Shannon (Justin) Moberg of Eagan, MN, Christopher Kiehne (Brianne) of Big Lake, MN, Stephanie (Corey) Knutson of Rochester, Jonathan (Darla) Kiehne of Eden Prairie, MN, Jeff (Liz) Golenzer of Rochester, Vanessa Smith of LaVerne, AL, and Brysen Smith of LaVerne, AL; five great-grandchildren, Violet, William, Carley, Landon, and Willem; and sister, Marietta Brown Rockford, IL.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 11:00 AM in the River Park Chapel at Macken Funeral Home in Rochester with Rev. Lester Horntvedt officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service.
The family of Vernon F. Smith has received the following condolences.
Wayne and Pam,
So sorry for the loss of your Dad. I have let Jeff and Liz know of his passing.
Sorry for loss of Vernon he was good friend and man, he will be truly missed. Scott, Jeff and Lisa Kranz, Gordon Kranz Family. God Bless.
My sympathy on the loss of your Dad. I remember him well. He was a great man. He did a lot in life and he raised a good family.
i remember he was a very strict father. Remember staying with you when I was a youngster. Wayne took me to explore the caves.
Remember Wayne saying get in the house when the geese would fly over. They will shit on your head. I have memories of both of you Wayne and Pam.
your Mom was a wonderful person too. I stayed at your parents lake home once too with you. I know with my parents both gone. There is an empty spot in my life. Then I look at my children and think. No. They are here with me yet. Remember the good and forget the bad times.
Sorry we could not make it. Take care.
joe, Michelle, Genna, Gabrielle, Grace and Jacob Sellner
It is with a sad heart that I write this. I am so sorry for your family. I was a neighbor, a friend and I worked "the line" for Smitty. He was a great guy. Fun to be around and a super Boss. I remember the parties at Smitty's house. In the back yard or the basement. Limbo lower Terry. Really good memories! I know Smitty and Terry are dancing up in heaven right now. Love you guys.
Wayne and Pam so sorry to hear of your loss we didn't get to see Vern when he sold the lake house we went there for his birthday and we found out that he was in town never got there . Just wanted you to know that we loved him very much as I loved your Mom so much she will have her arms open wide to great him and they will dance into the light forever together peace be with you always thinking of all of you and sending many prayers ? thank God you.
Pam and Wayne. I’m so very tearful that Smitty has passed. I will miss stopping by the “point” to visit with him on the picnic table. There are so many memories on the lake that will be in my heart forever. He was a wisecracker( smartass) like my dad. Always a story to be told. The tough guy with a soft heart. He would bend backwards for you. Remember all those memories. Speak of him often, then step forward and live on. He had quite the legacy. I’m glad to have been a part of it. Thinking of you with a smirk for Smitty