Local historian 2010 Citizen of the Year

— Smith always Rotary’s #1 recruiter

by Allen Gress

Herald Correspondent

You can find Ken Smith at McDonald’s about every morning, having a bagel and orange juice, working crossword puzzles along side his friends.

“It’s good exercise for the brain,” he’ll tell you.

But Smith’s community and church activities might suggest his brain doesn’t really need exercised.

Kenneth Robert Smith, affectionately called Kenny Bob, was named Louisville Citizen of the Year during ceremonies at the Constitution Community Banquet held last Wednesday at Paradise United Church of Christ.

Smith didn’t have to go far to receive his honor for he had volunteered that evening to work in the kitchen.

A Massillon native, Smith came to Louisville as a social studies teacher in 1963, finally retiring from the classroom in 1998 although he stills does substitute teaching at the high school. While teaching, Ken also coached 8th and 9th grade basketball, was the golf coach and was head girls’ basketball coach for a while. For many years he was the Faculty Manager in charge of the stadium. The Baldwin-Wallace graduate holds the Leopards near and dear to his heart, but he still follows the fortunes of the Massillon Tigers. He doesn’t miss many Hall of Fame luncheons.

Along the way he picked up a master’s degree at Akron University and in 1984 wrote the first edition of his book, Louisville — The Way it Was 1834-1975. There was a second edition out in 1991, and he is now working on a third edition to be published next year.

Among Ken’s retirement activities, besides helping his wife Pat fulfill her passion for gardening and landscaping, he plays golf several times a week – in season – and attends church and Sunday School at Paradise UCC where he has been a member since 1971. He always has time for his two adult daughters, both LHS graduates, and his four grandchildren.

And there’s the Rotary Club. Ken, a 38-year member, has served as president and has held other offices. He is the number one recruiter and yearly takes more Rose Day orders than any other Rotarian.

Two years ago, the club was looking for a new fundraiser, something that would benefit the community and bring in money to the club’s coffers.

Smith, who got the idea from a neighboring Rotary Club, pushed the idea of providing a flag service for the community. It works like this: the club buys the flags, installs and removes them for six holidays including Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Constitution Day and Veteran’s Day. The Rotarians install and remove the flags for a $20 fee.

Ken organized the project, oversees the routes and constantly sells more. The club now has over 850 flag customers and plans to reach 1,000 next spring.

“The club is now solvent,” fellow Rotarian Jim Edwards likes to say. “We have assets to do more projects for the community.”

The club has been sponsoring the Citizen of the Year program since 1975 when Anna Jule Whitmer was the first honoree.

Kenny Bob Smith joins a long list of community leaders who have been honored as Citizens of the Year. Incidentally, Pat Smith was previously named a Citizen of the Year in 1986 for her three-year work on the writing team for Ohio HB 5104 that established licensing requirements for child care workers. The two other husband-wife award winners are Jim (1989) and Mary (2002) Edwards and Ron and Betty Derry, 2009.