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Monday, May 8, 2023
Starts at 2:00pm (Central time)
Reverend Lt. Col. Gary Layne Smith, USAF, Ret. entered his heavenly home to be with his Lord and Savior on May 2, 2023.
Gary Layne Smith was born on December 5th, 1952 in Dayton, Ohio. He was the son of Sherman Smith and Gladys Ruth Roney Smith. Some of his favorite childhood memories were of growing up on his Grandpa Roney’s farm playing baseball in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. As a child he experienced homelessness and poverty which fundamentally shaped his drive to find needs and meet them.
He received an Associates of Arts from Golden Gate University in 1978, a Bachelor of Arts from Southwest Texas State University in 1980 with the highest honors, a Certification in Clinical Pastoral Education in 1984, and a Master of Divinity from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth in 1984.
Gary served a total of 31 years in the United States Air Force including 9 enlisted years, 3 reserve years, he was ordained in the Disciples of Christ denomination, and then served 19 years as a Chaplain. He received a Longevity Service Award with 5 oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with 1 bronze star, NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon, NATO Medal, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and a Master Chaplain Badge. He was the first Chaplain in the Air Force to receive the Commandant Award for Squadron Officer School. He was also the first Chaplain to be promoted below the zone. He loved telling stories from his career, including jumping out of a perfectly good airplane to make it to church on time. He also flew on board the B-52’s (very) Low Level Bombing trainings. Following retirement from the Air Force, he loved serving churches in San Marcos and Mexia, Texas.
In addition to being known the world over for his often gentle yet always competitive nature with baseball, golf, racquetball, Ping Pong, and fishing, he also authored a book of his sermons titled Letters from Boerdonk. He went on to write Ponderings from the Point; a series of daily emails telling real life stories and biblical interpretations. He gave voice to the voiceless no matter the odds or the consequence. He loved the Lord our God and knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior. It was a joy for him to serve “as one of your pastors.”
He was always moving and organizing resources. He was not a man that idled by. He lived his life serving others. He led young men to know the Lord by playing softball, umpiring, delivering meals to nursing homes, he loved preaching children’s sermons and giving personalized bibles to those he met. If there was a need, he would meet it and if he couldn’t, he would enlist the help from his ponderings’ congregation. He was a master of coordinating and motivating resources. The Bible tells us to joyfully give, and he joyfully gave.
Gary is survived by his wife of 47 years, Pamela Sue Franks Smith; daughter, Amity and her husband, Will Neighbors; son, Daniel and his wife, Chanté Smith; grandchildren William Neighbors, Adeline Smith, Jack Neighbors, and Cheyenne Smith; and his brothers David Smith, Rodney Smith, and George Holland.
Funeral Services will be held on Monday May 8th at 2pm at the First Methodist Church of Wortham followed by an interment service, Military Honors< at the Point Enterprise Cemetery.
In lieu of floral arrangements, donations can be made to the Mike and Margaret Young Endowment Scholarship; a scholarship fund that he created at TCU Brite Divinity School. https://epay.tcu.edu/brite_gift/