Saturday, July 10, 2010
Thursday, December 3, 2009
(Keith is on the left with his arms folded)
My father was a soldier. I had always known that from the time I was young. I had always known that he fought in Vietnam, and I had seen the shrapnel wounds on his legs. When he spoke of things that happened there, he was always very aware that it was a difficult war, but he didn’t use it as a crutch. He should have won a medal. There should have been welcome home parades. But he didn’t, and there weren’t. He never complained. He was very proud to have served as an American soldier. He demonstrated that love his entire life.
Freedom isn’t free. He knew that. He fought for it. No war is perfect or pretty. He knew that too. But he did what he had to, and he fought with honor and a love for his family and country—and freedom.
My father was a soldier. Not only in the war, but in life. He was always fighting a battle with adversities and with his health, but he never backed down. He never hid himself away and said it was too hard. He never complained. He always carried himself with a smile on his face and determination to get the job done. He did his best to be there when people needed him, and he refused to say ‘never’ or ‘can’t’. Those words weren’t in his vocabulary.
My father was a soldier. And I am proud of him. I always will be.
Thank you, dad…for leaving such an amazing legacy.
Love your daughter, Melissa
To learn more about the division my father fought in, please see the documentary ‘Shakey’s Hill’. You can see my dad in a few of the film clips. It shares an amazing view of the soldiers and brotherhood in Vietnam.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Although not everyone will understand this post, I felt it was important to share my dad’s love for an online game called ‘Lineage II’ over the past few years of his life, and the friends there that shared their love and support for him when they learned of his illness and his death. -Melissa
Keith fell in love with an online computer game called ‘Lineage II’. It is a fantasy game filled with dragons and castles, and through it he was able to be strong and befriend people from all over the world, including Italy, Spain, and Russia, and to help people in ways he couldn’t in life due to his poor health. He was looked up to as a leader of hundreds. He loved to play the game and to have fun. He was known as ‘Keta’ (shown below).
As Keith’s health began to fail and he was sent to the VA hospital, his daughter Melissa (known as ‘Tamoh’ in Lineage II) wrote a bulletin on a forum for the game to let everyone know how he was doing. Many responded with their wishes and thoughts—some of them didn’t know who Keith was, but were impressed by the demonstration of love and support.
When Keith passed away in the morning of November 16th, 2009, news spread rapidly throughout the game, and that night a gathering of friends in his honor rapidly grew into a spur-of-the-moment memorial that affected everyone playing the game that night. ‘Wars’ in the game were stopped for a day in his honor. Many sat with Keith’s game character named ‘Keta’ that night—and remained with him for hours until his character was disconnected from the game.
‘Keta’ will permanently retire from the world of Lineage II on December 24th, 2009. May his legacy and spirit of friendship be carried on in the hearts of all who knew him.
‘Keta’ Memorial Page, written by his daughter
The Funeral Service was held at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints building in Seattle on November 21st, 2009. Many family and friends were in attendance.
Keith’s casket was in the ‘family gathering’ room at the church before the funeral services began. Many shared their tearful words of love and fond memories. His casket was in his favorite color—blue.
The service in the chapel was lovely. There was music and stories told of Keith’s life by some of his family members.
Afterward, Keith received a military salute by the Army National Guard at his final resting place. A bugle was played. It was the most beautiful thing most had ever heard. The flag from Keith’s casket was folded and presented to Keith’s daughter, Melissa. It was an emotional and unforgettable experience. A few people placed flowers lovingly on his casket to say their goodbyes, including his two grandchildren.
Funeral Service Program front/outside:
(designed by Melissa, his daughter)
Keith is resting in the Abby View Memorial Park.
Thank you to everyone who attended, and to everyone who sent their love and wishes.
God Bless you, Keith. We love you.
This was read at Keith’s funeral service on November 21st, 2009 by his youngest brother Norman Smith.
Beloved Son, Brother, Father, Grandfather, Uncle, Cousin & Friend, Keith Lot Smith Jr., age 60, died November 16, 2009 in Seattle,Washington with family by his bedside. Keith was born January 17, 1949 to Keith & Jean Smith of Seattle,Washington. He was the second oldest of 5 children.
Keith was a kind and generous brother to his siblings growing up, often putting their needs before his own. This kind and generous heart Keith kept through out his life, even in adversity he seemed to stay positive. Keith always took the time to talk with others, give a big hug and share a good laugh.
Keith was also a helpful Son to his parents and as a youth he learned the plumbing trade alongside his father. Keith always had a strong work ethic and was someone that could truly be depended on. Keith was a tremendous help to his parents also as they got older.
Keith graduated from Shorecrest High School in Seattle in 1968. He excelled in mathematics and was an avid reader. Keith learned things easily and loved to work with his hands. He loved his 1956 chevy convertible which he restored. He also restored an old bread truck into what was known as, “Keith’s Magic Bus”- the infamous Woodstock Van. I’m sure many of you can recall many “fond” memories from this period in Keith’s life.
Keith went on to serve his country in the US Army’s 1st Calvary Division, 7th calvary regiment in Vietnam from 1969-1971 where he earned a purple heart*. When he left the service in 1971 he moved to Anchorage, joined the plumbers union in Juneau and worked on the North Slope. He moved to Fairbanks in 1974. Keith loved the Fairbanks area and ended up making it his home.
In 1981 Keith’s life was blessed with a beautiful daughter, Melissa Nicole. Keith couldn’t have been happier! In 1984 he was blessed again with another beautiful daughter, Amanda Marie. Keith was a very proud father! Later, Keith also gained a son in Jared Jenkins when his daughter Melissa married in 2002. Then along came the crown jewels in Keith’s life - his two adorable grandchildren, Brooke Lynn & Jaycen Hawke. There was no greater joy to Keith than his family!
Keith earned a living working as a journeyman plumber most of his life and started his own business in Fairbanks that eventually became known as ASAP, Arctic Service and Plumbing. He enjoyed working with all his customers and employees. Keith loved working, playing and serving. He always loved his brothers and sister in the gospel and serving the Lord in his various callings at church too.
He was a great outdoorsman, an avid fisherman, hunter and gardener. When Keith became ill, he had to leave Fairbanks to seek medical treatment at the VA clinic in Seattle Washington. Despite his medical condition it did not deter him from coming ‘home’ toAlaska often, to fish with friends & family.
Keith began to really enjoy an online game, called Lineage 2, where he was known for his strong character called Keta. Through the game he was able to get to know many people from all over the world, which he befriended and inspired by his generosity, determination and positive attitude in any situation.
We knew that Keith was not himself when he couldn’t find the strength to go fishing the summer of 2009 in Alaska. Keith loved to fish so much, we knew he wouldn’t have missed it otherwise.
Keith, we will miss your presence on so many different levels. Thank you for being a part of all of our lives and touching us with your kind and generous big heart. May you now rest in God’s care, pain free and surrounded by His love and glory. God Bless!
*Keith wasn’t officially awarded a purple heart, but his family felt it should be mentioned that he did since we all know he deserved one.
"I know my father tried to help as many people as he could through his family, friends, and the people he met each day in person and across miles. He did as much as he could to keep a positive, optimistic outlook on everything. He made a lasting impression not only on the family and friends who knew and loved him, but to people miles away around the world who never heard more than his voice. He was a giant of a man in heart and spirit...one whose presence--even across long distances--could be felt by everyone. As corny as it might sound, he's been a hero to me...and I know I'm not the only one that sees him in that light.
"To those who never had a chance to meet him in person, my heart goes out to you. He was an amazing person. Know that he sent his love to all of you every day he lived on this earth, and also now in spirit.
"I only hope that we can all help his legacy live on...his kindness, his tender touch, his warm hugs and big smiles, his quick wit and gentle voice, his love for adventure and laughter, his patience, his optimism, his natural ability to see good in everyone and everything, and his stubborness in working hard to achieve his goals--and in helping others achieve theirs. I know I am not the only one who will miss him.
"You will be with me dad, for all eternity in my heart and spirit...and in everyone that you touched. I love you THIS MUCH!"
-Melissa Jenkins (Smith), Keith's daughter