Richard Smith devoted his life to faith, family and farming in Crawford Co.


Missionary work took him to Haiti, where giving money to children made their day

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Richard Smith is a son of Warren and Martha Kocher Smith. His siblings are Kathleen (Atwell), Earl, Jane (Korner), Roger, Glenn and Carol (Hutchison).

When Richard went to school, the family lived about four miles east of town. He started in first grade at North Robinson, but his father wanted to go to Bible college and the family moved to Portland, Oregon, for a year. Richard was in second grade at the time. When they returned home, his father bought a farm on Quaker Road.

Richard started third grade at Holmes Liberty. His favorite subject was vocational education and he enjoyed scrap metal drives to make money for Future Farmers of America. They were given the day off from school and went to neighboring farms to pick up scrap metal and sell it to the scrap yard. In his senior year, Richard served as FFA president. It was a good experience when they won the province’s FFA Parliamentary Procedure Competition. He graduated from Holmes Liberty in 1961.

Richard started driving tractors at the age of five and continued to work for his father, who raised registered Angus cattle. He worked at Timken for seven years to earn enough money to buy a farm and a herd of cows. He thought of a woman and prayed to God.

“Please send me a woman with qualities like my own mother,” Richard said. “God certainly said yes. I have a copy from my mother, someone who would enjoy working with me on our farm.”

Marjorie Lust, a daughter of Frank and Nina Lust, came into Richard’s life and they married in 1964. Frank was known for his blacksmith shop on Marion Melmore Road. He was innovative and could manufacture machines, which made him so useful to the farmers. Marjorie had a sister Sylvia (Wingert) and a brother David. Nina suffered the death of her son when he was just 14, and she had a chronic health condition that left her bedridden until her death in 1977 at the age of 57.

Farming is a family affair

Marge also worked at Timken to get ahead so the couple could rent and eventually purchase a farm southwest of Bucyrus. They started with 30 dairy cows in 1969, growing the herd to about 50. They had three children who grew up on the farm, and they all inherited a love of farming.

Son Chuck now runs the farm, currently a grain farm. He also has a 2,500-hog barn for Hord’s Family Farms. He gets the pigs for about £20, and they are ready to sell for £290.

Daughter Roberta became an intensive care nurse at a hospital in Marion. She married Paul Schroder, and they are ranchers in Montana, selling calves for about 800 pounds.

Daughter Melissa and her husband, Jody Gregory, live in Crawford County and raise deer. They sell the money to yacht clubs.

Missionary work in Port au Prince, Haiti

Richard is proud to have done missionary work in Haiti. He went with a group from Crawford County in 1971. They arrived in Port au Prince at an orphanage and treated the wood in the building with creosote which formed a protective shield on the wood against termites and other insects. Fred Suter from northern Bucyrus was traveling. Richard and the other men built a concrete subfloor for the small grain bin that Fred provided to protect the food from the rat population.

Richard was struck by the sight of 30 to 35 people on their way somewhere. They hung outside a small pickup with a supply rack on the sides. Richard said life was also simple for him and the other volunteers during the two-week stay. They bathed in an irrigation ditch and meals were served from a cast-iron cauldron prepared by ‘a little stooping lady’.

“God only knows what we ate, but it was good,” he recalled.

Richard was sent to Cape Haitian to do maintenance work on another missionary complex. Families could lease an acre for a family food plot, and Richard helped by plowing the plots with a John Deere tractor and disc. There was a group of children nearby, and they helped by carrying the stones outside. Richard gave them dimes, and they left the area, only to return with a new herd of children. Richard also gave them dimes for their work.

He also maintained two diesel generators, while two young men who spoke no English stood nearby. They watched and Richard taught them how to do the work themselves.

Richard made fourteen trips to four countries to help build Christian camps, especially for the Word of Life. The highlight for Richard was that two grandsons and one granddaughter each traveled with him once to help.

Richard noted, “My most important relationship is with Christ, and my second relationship is my wife and family.”

For more stories and photos from Mary Fox, go online at bucyrustelegraphforum.com. If you are interested in sharing a story, write Mary Fox, 931 Marion Road, Bucyrus, OH 44820 or email [email protected].