The tall handsome guy on the left is one of those guys that only comes around so often. His name is Jack Smith, and I’ve know him, and his family for most of my life. We actually lived in the same neighborhood when we were pre-teens. Jack was a few years younger than I was, but went to school with my younger brother Darryl. Jack was only in 9th. grade when he became one of my hero’s. My brother was halfback on the football team, and Jack was a receiver. Little brother had a red headed bully giving him a hard time, and Jack stepped between them, and told the bully “If you want a piece of Darryl you’ll have to go through me!” Jack was no body to mess with, and the agitator knew it, end of story. I always respected and admired him for doing that.
Jack went on to play varsity baseball and football for Monroe High School, and also was training to be a boxer during his high school years. He was a speedy, agile, right fielder, who could hit the long ball, as well as hit for average. He was always a team player. Never a hot-dog or show boat. He was a coaches dream, as they all will testify to, including myself.
Back in the mid 1970’s I was fortunate enough to sign Jack up on our Local 723 softball team that I managed and played on. The picture above is of Jack and Ed Knabush holding the Michigan Industrial State Championship trophy. Jack played a big part in our team winning our league, district, and then state title. We even finished forth in the National Regionals. Oops I’m getting ahead of myself!
Back to Jacks high school days. Jack had a sister that lived in California, and Jack hooked up with a gym and boxing coach while spending summers in the sun. Two years in a row Jack boxed in the California Golden Gloves, and won titles in an impressive fashion. Jack was even given a write up in Sports Illustrated magazine, who said he was “An up and coming young boxer!”
Well as many of you know “life” isn’t always fair, and Jack lost the first two fingers, on his right hand, in an accident over the Christmas Holidays during his senior year. As I remember Jack still played baseball, but had to forgo football that last year of high school, as he had “blown” out his knee just before football season. Jack graduated, and it wasn’t long before his father Fred got him a job at the local Ford Motor plant. Jack got married to his sweetheart Linda McKinney, and they had two boys (Brian and Scott.) Both boys were baseball standouts receiving scholarships to the University of Toledo. Brian went on to play a year of minor league baseball, and now he and Scott are very successful businessmen. Over the years Jack was a much sought after softball player and coach. He even was one of the assistant baseball coaches at his old Alma Mater Monroe High. He took up golf and loved playing with his older brother “Johnny!” He became a journeyman millwright, and eventually a millwright leader at the plant.
Now we come to the year 2010. Jack has been retired and presently has the toughest battle of his life going on. Jack has cancer! He had a malignant tumor wrap itself around his esophagus and attach itself to his aorta. Chemo was able to shrink the tumor enough so he could have surgery, but the esophagus had to be removed and his stomach moved up into his chest area. I don’t know all the details of what Jack and his family have been through this past year, but I do know Jack is a fighter. Linda is too! In fact Linda just lost a brother-in-law and her mother in the last month.
I visited with Jack last week, and he looked real good to me, and said he was feeling good, now that they got him on the right pain medication. Jack and Linda have many friends and family praying for them right now. That’s where you (the reader) come in. Please pray for the Smiths! Put his name on your fridge, add him to a church prayer list, and petition God on his behalf. He is a good man, and you all know “A good man is hard to find!” Jacks family needs him, his grandkids need him, and the world needs him. What more could a man ask for, but to be LOVED, and Jack Smith you are loved by many.
Blessings My Brother