Obituaries » Wesley J. Smith
February 7, 1925 - March 29, 2021
A celebration of Wes’s life will be held at Hope Reformed Church, 910 Jenks Blvd. Kalamazoo, at 11:00 am on Saturday April 3, 2021. The service will be livestreamed on Hope Church’s FaceBook page at facebook.com/hopekzoo. Visitation will follow the service. A private family interment will take place at Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park-South, prior to the service. Memorial contributions may be given to PastorCare, Samaritan’s Purse or a Bible Based Charity of one’s choice.
Wesley John Smith slipped peacefully into the loving arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on March 29, 2021, at age 96, surrounded by his loved ones. Wes was born in Kalamazoo on February 7, 1925. He was preceded in death by his parents, Swier and Marie Smith; three brothers, Cornelius, Earl, and John; and two sisters and their spouses Irene and Jim Benzenberg and Genevieve and Jim Potts. He is survived by his dear wife of 74 years, Cora Ann “Co” Smith; his brother and sister-in-law, Clifford and Phyllis Smith; his daughter, Linda Joy; and three sons and their wives, John and Sue Smith, James and Annette Smith, and Jeff and Amy Smith; eleven grandchildren and their spouses; and fourteen great grandchildren.
Wes graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and served during World War II in the Army Air Force. He worked for 42 years in construction as an electrical foreman, for 32 years at Cramer Electric and the last 10 years at Rowen and Blair. Throughout his career, he was responsible for the electrical work on many buildings including several local banks, the Kalamazoo College Campus, Maple Hill Mall, Eckrich Meat Company, and Welch Foods in Lawton. After retirement as an electrician, he enjoyed working with his son, Jeff for 28 years at Corners Limited, building cages. He spent the first 17 years traveling with Jeff installing cages around the country, and then continued working in the shop until retiring at the age of 94!
Wes’s love of construction enabled him to build the family home on N. Fletcher Ave in Kalamazoo and a cottage on North Lake in Gobles. He was eager to help family and friends with their home construction projects. He took great joy in helping everyone he knew without charge.
Wes loved people, and their home was always open to entertain friends and neighbors. Wes spent countless hours in his boat, patiently teaching many people how to waterski. The cottage was a favorite gathering site for family and friends.
Wes had a lifelong passion for airplanes and he pursued his dream of flying by earning his pilot’s license and flying a Cessna 172 for 25 years. During that time, he loved sharing his joy of flying with others. He spent hours giving rides to his family and friends. Multiple children from church youth groups, boy scouts, friends of his children and grandchildren experienced their first airplane ride with Wes.
Wes also dearly loved being outdoors. He loved hunting, fishing, and riding trails with Co on their ATV. He loved the Upper Peninsula, and especially the Porcupine Mountains area. He joyfully taught his kids and grandkids to appreciate God’s creation through these activities. For 65 consecutive years, he eagerly participated in an annual UP deer hunting trip, before regretfully giving it up at age 94. We trust his legacy will continue through generations to come.
Wes was always actively involved in the ministry of his church. He grew up as a member of North Park Reformed Church. Wes and Co raised their family at Hope Reformed Church where he served in multiple roles as deacon, elder, Sunday School Superintendent, and Youth Group Leader. They took youth groups on several mission trips. They were also members of Third Reformed Church (Centerpoint Church) for a number of years, where he served as elder.
Wes donated six weeks of his time and expertise doing all the electrical work in the 5,000 square foot lower level of the new education building at New Life Community Church on Long Island, NY, where his son John served as Senior Pastor. The handful of church members who volunteered to help Wes enjoyed the opportunity of working with him as well as every minute of their coffee break conversations.
In retirement, Wes enjoyed meeting friends for fellowship over a cup of coffee. During the last years of his life, Wes joined a small group gathering at a little coffee shop in Kendall six mornings a week, where he was dearly loved!
Wes lived his faith and shared his love of the Lord by being a kind and loyal friend to everyone he met. Wes will be remembered for his unfailing love of his wife, family and friends, his incredible sense of humor, his gentle servant’s heart, and his diligent work ethic.